Herald Sun: Details scarce about North Richmond drug injecting room, set to open during school holidays

 CONTROVERSIAL drug injecting room is set to open while students at a neighbouring primary school are on holiday.

The Herald Sun understands that the North Richmond injecting room, which will allow ice use, will open in less than a fortnight.

Students at public schools break for two weeks’ holiday next Friday.

Despite its opening being just days away, the state government has provided little detail on exactly how and when the centre will run.

Facing questions during public estimates earlier this month, Mental Health Minister Martin Foley could not confirm its operating hours or if it would be open on weekends.

It is understood that North Richmond Community Health’s needle exchange program, outreach workers, police and paramedics will notify drug users once the centre is open.

A government spokeswoman said yesterday that the drug injecting room would save lives and make the North Richmond community safer.

“We’ve listened to the experts, local community, first responders and families exposed to the trauma and the heartbreak of addiction — and we won’t waste a minute getting this facility up and running,” she said.

Concerns about the drug-injecting trial have emerged since it was revealed the centre would allow any drug of ­dependence, including ice.

Opposition spokeswoman for mental health Emma Kealy said the government must “wear total responsibility” if a single student, child, teacher or resident was injured by an ice user.

“We are less than two weeks from this ice injecting room opening and Daniel Andrews still can’t tell people what security will be in place to protect our kids and its days and hours of operation,” she said.

Security at Richmond West Primary has been beefed up since it was announced a drug injecting room would open next door.

CCTV cameras have been added to the school’s entrances and exists, and lighting and fences upgraded.

Screens will also block students’ view of the facility from the playground.

Reason Party leader Fiona Patten, who long campaigned for an injecting room, said the centre’s location next to a school would keep students from witnessing overdoses.

“There is no doubt that it will have a very positive affect on the local community and its amenity,” she said.

“Despite the criticism from a few, the location at the North Richmond Health centre is ideal and will prevent children from being exposed to drug use and drug overdoses.”