The Andrews Labor Government says that it will focus on minimising drug-related harm to the community and users in response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Drug Law Reform.
Part of the plan involves the trial of the medically supervised injecting room in North Richmond, which the Andrews Government says is already saving lives.
“Our staff have safely responded to 140 overdoses in just two months, many of which would have otherwise been fatal,” said Martian Foley, the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing.
Liberal Opposition leader Matthew Guy said that the medically supervised injecting rooms sent a message to children that taking ice and heroin was ok.
“It’s dangerous, it’s wrong and we’ll close it down,” Mr Guy said.
However, Australian Drug Foundation spokesperson Laura Bajurny said that there had already been positive feedback from the medically supervised injecting rooms trial.
“Some of the personal feedback that even now is coming out of the north Richmond trial is really moving… its people who use drugs being treating like a human being for the first time,” said Ms Bajurny.
Apart from the medically supervised injecting room trial, grants will be provided to needle and syringe programs to enable free overdose reversal drugs like Naloxone to users, the Andrews Government said in its response.
Rosie Cluett from drug and alcohol counselling service Taskforce said that harm minimisation was a broad concept that was not all about abstinence.
“It may be about safe injecting practices, it may be about reducing from a bottle of wine to two glasses a night. It is a very broad concept,” said Ms Cluett.
“Sometimes it might be that they are homeless, and that might be a really difficult thing for that person. So, you can’t talk about reducing drug and alcohol use if they have nowhere to live,” said Ms Cluett.
Although focusing on harm minimisation, the Andrews Government said it would not change its stance on pill testing and decriminalisation of drugs.