In 2020 the government committed to opening Victoria’s second supervised injecting room, honouring the recommendations of the Hamilton report and acknowledging the clear evidence that an overdose prevention service in the CBD will save lives. In 2020 the government established an expert advisory panel led by former police commissioner Ken Lay to write a report examining the effectiveness of medically supervised injecting rooms and the prospect of a supervised injecting room in the CBD.

The panel undertook a rigorous process of examination and consultation, culminating in Mr Lay’s final report being given to the mental health minister in May 2023. But tragically this report has not been released publicly.

Let us put this in some context. The City of Melbourne has the highest number of heroin overdoses of any local government area in Victoria, with community health service Cohealth estimating an average of two people die every month from heroin overdoses.

Heroin-related ambulance call-outs in the CBD are increasing with 390 related call-outs in 2022, an increase of 28 per cent on the previous year. Nearly 12 per cent of all ambulance call-outs in the City of Melbourne are heroin-related. We know, and the government knows from the North Richmond experience, that medically supervised injecting rooms not only save lives but provide a wraparound suite of services that provide addicted people with a road back to health, a road to security, a road back to life itself.

Last September, 20 of Victoria’s peak medical bodies and unions called on the government to urgently open a supervised injecting room in Melbourne’s CBD. This included the AMA, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Victorian Healthcare Association, the Health and Community Services Union and the Victorian Ambulance Union.

Premier Allan has committed this government to greater transparency, and that is to be applauded – genuinely applauded.

Consistent with that commitment, this motion provides the government with the opportunity to walk the talk. Release the Lay report and related documents, and take the community into your trust. Lives literally depend upon it. I commend the motion to the Council.


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