A long-standing Richmond Greek business owner says the state government was wrong to extend the Medically Supervised Injecting Room (MSIR) operation in North Richmond for another three years, stating the facility should be next to a hospital.
The Greek business owner, who did not want to be identified, said he has had his mechanics business off Victoria St, near Burnley St, for more than 20 years and the drug problem had got worse for all businesses in his street since the MSIR was open two years ago. He said this was despite his shop being many blocks away from the North Richmond facility.
“Since the injecting room, it’s getting worse. Even this far away,” he said.
“You can see them (the drug addicts) in the back streets, waiting to do a deal or shooting up in the laneways,” he said.
He said if the addicts weren’t injecting, they were trying to sell him stolen goods, like tools and cigarettes, in order to make money to buy drugs.
Victoria’s first MSIR was established in the North Richmond Community Health Centre(NRCH), in Lennox St, near public and private housing and nextdoor to West Richmond Primary School as a trial for two years until 30 June this year. After that date, its viability was going to be reviewed by an independent panel.
In a shock announcement last month, the state government announced that the facility would be extended for another three years with a proposal for a second injecting facility, at Cohealth Central City on Victoria St, opposite the Queen Victoria market. The proposed second facility was to absorb the overwhelming demand experienced at the existing North Richmond injecting facility.
Neos Kosmos has already reported on the situation faced by residents near the MSIR in North Richmond.
The Greek businessman disagreed with the government’s decision to extend the trial at NRCH.
“I reckon it’s wrong,” he said.
“It’s not going to make any difference.”
He said his wife refused to visit her doctor near the corner of Elizabeth and Lennox streets, in the afternoons, when there were more drug addicts on the streets.
He said he and his teenage son stopped meeting up for dinner at their favourite Chinese restaurant near the corner of Victoria and Church streets, because they could see drug deals from the restaurant windows.
He said the problem with drugs in Victoria St and Lennox streets was not new as in the 1990s he had a shop in the area and drug addicts, posing as patrons, were always asking to use his toilet facilities so they could shoot up in.
He said the drug problem since then has escalated and the MSIR in North Richmond should, in his view, be relocated.
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“I reckon, for me personally, the injecting room should be next to a hospital,” he said.
“If it were there, drug addicts could get extra care.”
He said extending the trial at the North Richmond facility was a bad decision.
“This is no solution whatsoever,” he said.
“These people need help.
” I know the injecting rooms are safe, but they have to be away from schools and housing.”
He was sympathetic when asked by Neos Kosmos what advice he would give to residents and customers near the proposed second safe injecting room, opposite Queen Victoria market.
“Good luck,” he said.