couriermail.com.au, August 25, 2011

Drug injecting centre sought

COMMUNITY groups want medically supervised injecting centres to be put back on the agenda for the Fortitude Valley area.

Queensland Intravenous AIDS Association president Danielle Coade said the organisation would support one, especially in the Fortitude Valley precinct.

"Currently there is street-based injecting happening in the Valley," Ms Coade said.

"We're in a situation where they can go to needle exchanges to get drug equipment but they can't use it in a legal way it's a Catch 22 situation."

Sydney has the only medically supervised injecting centre in the country but Australian Drug Foundation chief executive officer John Rogerson said these centres should be on the agenda of all state governments.

"It really is a win-win situation but the problem is it's a tough issue for the community to get their head around but you need to put it where the drugs are," he said. "It also gives a message to people using drugs that we actually care for them."

John Close, chief executive officer of drug intervention program Goori House, said the program took an abstinence approach but he could see the need for a centre.

"You'd have to have it in the Valley where drug use is prevalent," he said.

Alex Wodak, an advocate of medically supervised injecting centres and director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital, said this was a decision to be made by locals on the ground.

"However if I was living or working in Fortitude Valley I would certainly want one," Dr Wodak said.

He said Fortitude Valley had two to three drug overdoses a week that resulted in ambulance callouts.

"A lot of those people will die and, even if they make it to the hospital, many people come out of this seriously damaged," he said.

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Geoff Wilson said medically supervised injecting centres were not on the State Government's agenda.

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