Heroin injecting rooms in NSW may soon be opened to pregnant women and 16-year-olds

By @ritwikroy1985 on
Heroin
Samples of needle and syringe program kits that the Nairobi Outreach Services Trust (NOSET) provides to heroin users to encourage safe injecting practices are pictured in Nairobi, Kenya, July 13, 2016. Picture taken July 13, 2016. Reuters/Neha Wadekar

A statutory review of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) in Sydney’s Kings Cross is being conducted by NSW Health in a bid to push for more NSW heroin injecting rooms that can be used by minors (16-year-olds) and pregnant women. The centre has been operating for more than 15 years.

Before a report is submitted to the Baird Government, NSW Health is taking submissions by stakeholders. Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant that even though all stakeholder consultation and representation are welcome, NSW Health won’t be supportive of all of them.

The Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, in its proposal, asked for an increase in the number of injecting rooms around the state. According to the ABC, President Dr. Alex Wodak said that Sydney and south-west Sydney are obvious places for such injecting rooms. He even supported dropping the minimum age of users from 18 to 16.

As per a document obtained by The Daily Telegraph, currently, individuals under the age of 18 are excluded from the part of the MSIC that is used for injecting. However, those injecting heroin below the age of 18, inject somewhere else in less safe circumstances.

“There have been seven instances in the last six years where staff at the centre have had to deny access on the basis that the individual was under 18 years of age ... Excluding pregnant women from any treatment facility, including the injecting room, does not prevent exposure of the foetus to drugs or alcohol,” said the document.

Acting Premier Troy Grant has criticised the proposal as “offensive” and “ridiculous.”

“These people are absolutely off their rockers. They want to justify opening up the centre for kids to use based on seven people they have turned away in six years,” Grant said.

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