Supervised injecting facilities
Supervised injecting facilities (SIFs), also known as "drug consumption rooms", "injecting rooms" or "safe injecting facilities", are places where people who use drugs can inject illicit drugs, supervised by nurses and social workers.
While injecting at a SIF is not considered to be "safe" (due to the risks involved with injecting unregulated substances), SIFs allow for vital education and emergency care, as well as offering pathways into rehabilitation, treatment and other health services for people who inject drugs.
Which countries have supervised injecting facilities?
The first supervised injecting facility was opened in Switzerland, in the 1980s. There are now approximately 90 SIFs worldwide—the majority of these in European countries including Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg and Denmark. Canada has two facilities and Australia has one.
What's the current situation in Australia?
The Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre opened in Kings Cross, Sydney, in 2001, on a trial basis.
In 2010, after a number of evaluations, the New South Wales (NSW) government introduced legislation to lift the trial status of the Sydney MSIC to allow it to become a permanent health service.
In May 2011, the Yarra City Council, in inner Melbourne, voted to appeal to the Victorian State Government to consider opening a SIF in the suburb of Richmond, due to a perceived high rate of public injecting in the area. This proposal was rejected by the Government and public injecting continues to be a problem in Richmond.
In October 2012, the Australian Medical Association Victoria released a Policy Paper [PDF:86KB](new window) supporting the trial of supervised injecting facilities in Victoria.
Are SIFs effective?
Evidence from both Australia and overseas (listed below) indicates that SIFs are an effective way of reducing some of the harms associated with injecting drug use, including:
Evalutions of the Sydney MSIC have found that in 2011 it had:
In early 2013, the Drug Policy Modelling Program (DPMP), at the University of New South Wales, published:
Hedrich, D 2004 European report on drug consumption rooms, Lisbon: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction
Find out more
Read more about supervised injecting facilities in these Australian and international websites and publications.
Health Canada 2008 Vancouver's INSITE service and other supervised injection sites: What has been learned from research? Final report of the Expert Advisory Committee, Ottawa: Health Canada
Insite: Supervised Injection Site (Vancouver)
Power R 2012 "Supervised injecting facilities: Do they work?", The Melbourne Review
ReGen, Advocacy in action, "Support for the consideration of establishing a Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in Melbourne, Victoria"
Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC), Kings Cross, Sydney
Wood E, Tyndall M, Montaner J & Kerr T 2006 "Summary of findings from the evaluation of a pilot medically supervised safer injecting facility", Canadian Medical Association Journal, 175:11
Yarra Drug Health Forum 2010 The potential and viability of establishing a Supervised Injecting Facility (SIF) in Melbourne: Postion paper [PDF: 238KB], Collingwood: YDHF
Yarra Drug Health Forum 2011 Supervised injecting facilities (SIFs): The facts [PDF: 322KB](new window), Collingwood: YDHF
Last updated: 13 January 2015