Brimbank could be better location

Maribyrnong mayor Michael Clarke. Photo by Damjan Janevski. 237416_01

Tara Murray and Goya Dmytryshchak

Maribyrnong mayor Michael Clarke has suggested that Brimbank could be a better location than Footscray for a drug injection centre.

Key Victorian crossbench MP Fiona Patten last week called for injecting rooms to be set up in Footscray, St Kilda and Dandenong, similar to those established in North Richmond.

She said the government had previously recommended there should be five such facilities across Melbourne including in areas such as Dandenong, Footscray and St Kilda to cater for the need.

“A need that still unfortunately still exists today,” she said.

“I applaud the Victorian government for announcing a second facility to be based in the CBD – but we need to go further than that.

“The proposed sites would be smaller and more discreet than the controversial existing injecting room in North Richmond, and could offer fixed pill testing as well.”

Cr Clarke said there was no data to support an injecting room in Footscray. He said Brimbank could be a better location.

“Council, point-blank, does not have a resolved position on a safe injecting room,” he said.

“I’m a data-driven mayor, we’re a data-driven council, and quite simply there is no data to support a safe injecting room in Footscray.”

“As the former chief executive of the Youth Junction over in Brimbank (Sunshine service for people aged 12-25), I can say that my experience in the chief executive’s role in Brimbank was that there was at the time, while I was in the role, clearly a substance issue in Brimbank – no question about it.

“That would warrant a review, I would suggest, for whether or not such a facility would be best sited in Brimbank.”

Brimbank community wellbeing director Lynley Dumble said that drug use is a complex and concerning problem.

“Along with our community, Brimbank council is concerned by the effects of harmful drug use in Brimbank and neighbouring areas,” she said.

“Council recognises the importance of the harm minimisation approach to drug use, however any proposal for a medically supervised injecting facility needs to be based on evidence.

“Council has in the past advocated to the state government for primary health services in Brimbank, including needle and syringe programs such as those provided at the Braybrook Hub, which is in the City of Maribyrnong.”

Acting Premier James Merlino said the state government does not support a supervised injecting room beyond a second site at Queen Victoria Market.