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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?

Sydney

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.

Melbourne

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.
Read the Yarra City Council media release from May 2011.

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:

  • numbers of overdoses (including fatal and non-fatal)
  • public littering of injecting equipment
  • reaching problematic injecting drug users and providing pathways and opportunities for treatment and support
  • infection rates of transmissible diseases such as Hepatitis C
  • harm to people who inject drugs, such skin abscesses and damaged veins
  • drug-related loitering, drug dealing or petty crime in areas in the area
  • healthcare costs including ambulance call-outs and hospital admission.

 

Australian evidence

Evalutions of the Sydney MSIC have found that in 2011 it had:

  • successfully managed more than 4,400 drug overdoses without a single fatality
  • reduced the number of publicly discarded needles and syringes in the Kings Cross area by approximately half
  • decreased the number of ambulance call outs to Kings Cross by 80%
  • generated more than 9500 referrals to health and social welfare services.


Read evaluation reports from Sydney MSIC.

 

In early 2013, the Drug Policy Modelling Program (DPMP), at the University of New South Wales, published:

International evidence

Hedrich, D 2004 European report on drug consumption rooms, Lisbon: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

Dolan K, Kimber J, Fry  J, Fitzgerald J, McDonald D & Trautman, F 2006 "Drug consumption facilities in Europe and the establishment of supervised injecting centres in Australia" [PDF: 12KB], Drug and Alcohol Review, 19, pp. 337–346

Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2006 Drug consumption rooms: Summary report of the Independent Working Group, York: JRF

AK Konsumraum 2011 Drug consumption rooms in Germany: A situational assessment [PDF: 2.9MB](new window), Berlin: Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe

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

Hedrich D 2004 European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. European report on drug consumption rooms,

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

Information you heard is intended as a general guide only. This audio is copyrighted by the Australian Drug Foundation. Visit www.DrugInfo.ADF.org.au for more