7th Augusr 2023
The following article provides very useful data obtained via FOI, confirming the mass exodus of clients of the Maternal Health Clinic located next to the Richmond injecting room.
North Richmond Community Health (NRCH) and its Maternal Health Clinic, are situated in the middle of the high-density Richmond public housing estate, the largest of its kind in Australia. It consists of five 20-storey towers and a mix of other residential formats spread over several hectares.
The estate is home to a diverse, multicultural mix of different ethnicities and languages. It is reasonable to suggest that if 132 women had the time, energy, language skills, and knowledge of the health system to initiate a transfer request, then many, many more did not. Some do not drive and may not have the ability to travel. Those who quietly drop out will potentially forego the critical support services, like immunization, that the clinic has long provided.
The lack of public outrage from the residents is understandable as their landlord (the Government) is the architect of the problems they face, and they will not speak out for fear of losing their homes.
It is also reasonable to assume that if attendance at the Maternal Health Clinic is affected by the constant presence of drug users injecting and loitering around the facility, other NRCH services for vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, will be similarly affected. Many older people who had long-established relationships with their GP’s, no longer feel safe attending. The centre runs a wide range of community programs, including a homework club for kids. Yet drug dealers are always loitering outside, and users frequently sit at the entrance and openly inject drugs.
As the name suggests, North Richmond Community Health was originally established on the housing estate specifically to cater for the well-being of the thousands of low-income people living there. This core focus on local residents has been eroded by the establishment of the injecting room in 2018, first under the same roof as the NRCH, and then in the purpose-built facility built alongside, which opened a year later. The injecting room caters for thousands of IV drug users (consuming mainly ice and heroin), from all over Melbourne and beyond. Satellite services, such as vans providing food, laundry facilities, showers, drop-in counselling etc., are provided in the car park.
Effectively the location is the nirvana for drug addicts, everything they want or need is on tap for their convenience.
Interestingly, the placement of the Injecting Room in Richmond was meant to cater to the local community, but it has ended up serving a wider population in Melbourne. Addicts from all over the city come to access drugs, rather than just those in the immediate vicinity. Unfortunately, the presence of the Injecting Room has also attracted many drug dealers to the area, drawn by the high number of addicts visiting the facility. This has created a “Honey Pot” effect, resulting in many addicts shooting up in the surrounding area instead of inside the facility. And therein lays the major problem with the location.
The italicised section of the following Herald Sun article makes for an interesting read. Clearly, the Government only considers the community from within its own bubble and detached from reality – the official statement is complete hyperbole and propaganda but probably tells us all we need to know about the care factor for Richmond’s law-abiding citizens, by this Government.
Reprinted from the Herald Sun
North Richmond Community Health: New mums request transfer away from injecting room
Mothers of newborns are asking to be transferred away from a health centre that provides critical maternal support because it’s near the injecting room.
July 17, 2023 – 6:00AM
Mums of newborns are asking to be transferred to different health centres instead of using critical maternal support next to the North Richmond injecting room.
A damning report by the City of Yarra obtained under Freedom of Information laws reveals 65 per cent of mothers who transferred from North Richmond Community Health (NRCH) did so because of fears about the trouble-plagued facility.
Another 5 per cent of the 132 women who requested to move between March 2018 and July 2022 listed violence in the area as why they asked to leave.
The only other reasons women provided were ‘other’ or declining to say.
It comes just days after it was reported that Victoria’s second injecting room could be housed at the Salvation Army building on Bourke St, 200m from state parliament.
NRCH provides crucial medical advice including maternal child health nursing and general practice.
The council’s research also revealed residents were fearful of the presence of drug users, the visibility of criminal behaviour and needles strewn in public places.
One woman, who undertook the survey, said Butler Street Park, which is located metres from the controversial facility, was “terrifying” to walk past in broad daylight amid drug users openly injecting.
“It’s only used by drug dealers and users. It’s always filthy even after the council cleans it up, it only takes a short while until it is littered with drug paraphernalia again,” the woman said
Another woman said Lennox St had become a “dangerous place”. “Drug users walk down the street and step out onto the road high on drugs,” she said.
Other women said drug users were “unpredictable”, “scary” and noted that men were “catcalling” them. “They comment on women and to women who walk by. When I do school pick up, their harassment makes me feel uncomfortable,” one woman said.
Between January 2020 to June 2022, the council received 66 community safety requests that related specifically to the precinct around the injecting room. The top three complaints included drug injecting and anti-social behaviour, which had 39 reports each and the injecting room with 34.
The report also featured the council’s annual customer satisfaction survey, with residents asked to rate how safe they feel on a scale of 0 (very unsafe) to 10 (very safe). In 2022, respondents scored a 5.7 for Richmond at night and an 8 for Yarra during the day.
Opposition mental health spokeswoman Emma Kealy said the damning evidence proved the injecting room is causing enormous harm to the safety and amenity of the North Richmond community.
“The safety of women and their newborns have been cruelly sacrificed by Labor, and the Premier still refuses to admit the injecting room should never have been built between a maternal child health centre and a primary school,” Ms Kealy said. “Labor must stop punishing the residents of Richmond who simply want to access their local community and maternal health care safely and without risk of abuse, violence and the dangerous drug-associated behaviour caused by Labor’s injecting room.”
A state government spokeswoman said everyone had the right to feel safe in their community.
That’s why outreach teams have been expanded and Victoria Police is a highly visible presence in the North Richmond area, with regular proactive patrols and ongoing enforcement activity,” the spokeswoman said.
“The City of Yarra has grappled with drug use and anti-social behaviour, including public injecting and incorrectly disposed of syringes, for decades – that’s why the medically supervised injecting room was placed in the North Richmond location.”
“It has safely managed more than 6000 overdoses and saved at least 63 lives – taking pressure off local hospitals, reduced ambulance call outs and led to a decrease in public injecting.”