The Victorian Government has engaged former Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay AO APM to lead the consultation process for a second Supervised Injecting Room (SIR), to be based in the City of Melbourne.
Mr Lay will work with health and drug reform experts to analyse data and evidence on drug harms within the City of Melbourne and oversee a comprehensive engagement process, seeking the views of all interested parties on the preferred site, including experts, community representatives, businesses and other key stakeholders.
This consultation process will consider drug activity and harms, existing health and social services, safety and amenity, transport options, policing and infrastructure requirements.
Extensive consultation has already occurred with key stakeholders on the second Supervised Injecting Room (SIR) proposed for the City of Melbourne.
Mr Lay AO APM has provided initial advice to the government based on consultations held between August and November 2020.
The Victorian Government has extended the consultation into 2021, when face-to-face engagement is less restricted and key voices are more able to have their say. The additional time will allow Mr Lay to work through the complex issues in a thorough manner.
What is within scope for consultation?
The consultation process will consider:
- drug activity and harms
- existing health and social services
- safety and amenity
- the environment around the proposed SIR
- transport options, policing and infrastructure limitations of the site
Why did the government announce a second trial site?
On 5 June 2020, the government accepted all the recommendations made by the independent review panel into Victoria’s first Medically Supervised Injecting Room.
This included a key recommendation to establish a second site in the City of Melbourne, where tragically 51 Victorians died of heroin-related causes between January 2015 and September 2019 and which has the second highest ambulance attendances for heroin overdoses after the City of Yarra.
Ambulance Victoria data shows that opioid-related ambulance attendances in the City of Melbourne were up 49 per cent in the five years to 2019 and have doubled in the CBD over the same period.
The second SIR site will help take pressure off the current North Richmond service, reduce the burden on ambulance and hospital service and most importantly save and transform lives.
In line with the independent review panel’s recommendations, the Melbourne SIR will also allow the Government to trial a new model of care for a facility of this kind.
What are the next steps?
Mr Lay is committed to overseeing a consultation process that provides the opportunity for a range of stakeholders to have their voices heard, including members of the public, residents, traders, health experts and people with lived experience of addiction.
The formal consultation process will be undertaken in two key phases.
The first phase, completed in November 2020, focused on speaking with health and drug reform experts, analysing key data and seeking advice from a range of stakeholders to ensure there was a good representation of views about the proposal.
A broad community consultation – including with businesses, residents and people with lived experience of addiction – will be undertaken in 2021.
Initial meetings with community stakeholders have informed the development of this consultation process. Importantly, coronavirus (COVID-19) considerations have also been taken into account in determining that the community consultations will occur when there is greater chance of face-to-face engagement.
How can people contribute to the consultation process?
Interested community parties who wish to contribute formally should register their interest by filling in the form below.
Consultation Terms of Reference
On 5 June 2020, the Victorian Government announced it had accepted the recommendations of the independent review of Victoria’s first Medically Supervised Injecting Room at North Richmond. A second SIR will be established in the City of Melbourne, where there were 51 heroin-related deaths between January 2015 and September 2019, 25 of which were in non-residential locations (the second highest number in the state behind the City of Yarra). The City of Melbourne is also second to the City of Yarra in the number of ambulance attendances for heroin overdoses.)
A second SIR in the City of Melbourne will take the pressure off the established North Richmond site, reduce the burden on Victoria’s already stretched ambulance and hospital system and link people who already inject in the City of Melbourne to services and supports which will ultimately save lives.
The government will work with health and drug reform experts, Victoria Police and the City of Melbourne and will engage with stakeholders. A final site for the SIR will be selected within the City of Melbourne.
To achieve this, the government has appointed former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Ken Lay AO APM to lead an independent consultation.
Role of Ken Lay AO APM
Mr Lay will lead the consultation process to compile evidence and data to inform the advice to government on the final site selection and actions to maintain and enhance safety and amenity.
Mr Lay will consider: drug activity and harms; existing health and social services; safety and amenity; the built environment; transport and policing and infrastructure limitations of the site (including factors that would prevent timely delivery of a SIR in the City of Melbourne).
Specifically, the responsibilities of Mr Lay are to:
- work with health and drug reform experts to collect and analyse relevant data and evidence related to identified factors
- oversee a public community engagement process on site selection, actively seeking the views of people who inject drugs, residents, businesses and other key stakeholders (including Victoria Police, the City of Melbourne, health and community services and other authorities), including on the preferred site and actions to maintain and enhance safety and amenity
- report to the Minister for Health on site selection and actions to maintain and enhance safety and amenity for a SIR in the City of Melbourne.
Mr Lay may conduct the above activity in relation to alternative sites identified by the City of Melbourne at the direction of the Minister for Health.
Reviewed 25 October 2021