Plans for a safe injecting room where drug addicts can get clean needles and medical assistance will go before Victoria’s parliament this week.
Sex Party leader Fiona Patten is pushing for an 18-month trial amid support from community leaders and medical experts.
She says it would free up ambulance resources and reduce the number of needles left in public places – something the current needle exchanges fail to address.
“Needle exchanges are just blindly sending homeless, mentally ill people out to use illegal drugs in car parks, people’s doorways and in public toilets,” Ms Patten told AAP on Tuesday.
“Nurses and doctors say this is not a correct duty of care.”
The injecting room has been touted for North Richmond, where Ms Patten says 34 people died from drug overdoses in 2016 alone.
The Sex Party advocates a trial to be run at the same time as a parliamentary committee, which will take two years.
“If we wait another two years we’re looking at another 70 people dying in North Richmond,” Ms Patten said.
A safe injecting room in Sydney’s Kings Cross, which was set up in 2001, handles about 200 injections a day and has not had any overdose deaths.
Ms Patten says ambulance call-outs for overdoses in Kings Cross have gone down by 80 per cent and the number of syringes found around the neighbourhood had halved.
Mental Health Minister Martin Foley said on Tuesday that the government support a “harm minimisation steps that look at this as a health issue”.
But he said there were no plans to introduce safe injecting rooms in the state, which Ms Patten says “flies in the face of all the evidence”.
The issue has come up several times in Victoria during the past decade but successive state governments rejected the idea.