Keeping people alive through needle exchanges

Keeping people alive and offering help

Making clean needles available for addicts is one way of minimising harm and getting help for them, health experts argue.

Making clean needles available for addicts is one way of minimising harm and getting help for them, health experts argue.

I would like to commend Uniting Ballarat on their commitment to installing a Secure Dispensing Unit in the Ballarat central business district.  This project is occurring with Ballarat Community Health’s full support and addresses a strong need to have readily available, sterile injecting equipment in the centre of our city.

Ballarat Community Health has provided a needle syringe program since 1989.  It is one of the most effective means available of reducing the harms associated with injecting drugs.  Needle syringe programs, or NSPs, have been extensively researched for their effectiveness and have been shown to be one of the most cost-effective public health interventions we have available. Economic estimates have shown that every $1 spent on NSPs saves the community $27. This is due to the significant decrease in healthcare and other costs to the community through preventing HIV and Hepatitis C infections. Between 1986 and 2000 it is estimated that NSP’s prevented 25,000 HIV infections, 21,000 Hepatitis C infections and saved between $2.4 and $7.7 billion.

Readers may not be aware that NSPs are supported by all major political parties in Australia. The Australian Medical Association and the World Health Organisation both strongly support NSPs. All state and territory police departments also support NSPs.

Contrary to some community opinion, NSPs do not give out drugs or encourage people to inject drugs.  Drug use has been proven to decrease among injecting drug users who attend NSPs and the vast majority of needles and syringes are disposed of safely and appropriately.

It is disappointing to read some of the more inflammatory comments on social media in response to your article.  For the families and friends of those individuals who inject drugs, NSPs play a crucial role in keeping a loved one alive.  By being offered within health and community services, NSPs also provide opportunities for a person to access treatment when they are ready to do so.  

Jacqui Keevins, Manager Pharmacotherapy, Ballarat Community Health

Bakery Hill Stoush Over Road Construction.

I read with interest that a stoush over a road in Bakery Hill is set to further delay a 20 million dollar development consisting of 25 double storey townhouses and 77 apartments on a blank block between St Pauls Way and Faith Lane. This was  approved by Planning Minister Richard Wynne in 2016.

I understand that  the conditions placed on the approval were requirements for the developer to seal Faith Lane, a gravel road along the edge of a 9608 square metre site, which is owned by the Ballarat City Council.

Now the developer has lodged an amendment request asking Council to cover the cost of redeveloping the road.

I think many ratepayers would be upset  if council decided to use their money when there were conditions placed on the developer when this project was approved.

Geoff Rundell, Ballarat

Different Priorities for State Government

Isn’t it strange how we each have different priorities?  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I turned the first page of The Courier on Saturday 14 April, 2018.

On one page was a picture of some very caring people telling us that there is a need for sanitary products for homeless women and families with barely enough money to feed their children. On the opposite page we see that the State Government has given $500,000 for a football stadium.

The government has given $500,000 for people who have jobs, cars, money for football boots and enough for a couple of beers after a game. For the people who need compassion and caring, nothing!

Arlene Geoffrey, Creswick.