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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?


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 October 2012, the Australian Medical Association Victoria released a Policy Paper supporting the trial of supervised injecting facilities in Victoria.

In 2013, City of Yarra reiterated its support of a trial of a Supervised Injecting Facility within the City of Yarra. This was also supported by the Yarra Drug and Health Forum.

Yarra City Council statement on illicit drugs

There have been renewed efforts to establish a Supervised Injecting Facility in Melbourne. Read The Conversation article, 'Why Australia needs drug consumption rooms'.

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

Evaluations of the Sydney MSIC have found that up until May 2015 it had:

  • Successfully managed more than 6,089 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 12,000 referrals to health and social welfare services

Reference: Uniting (2016). Medically Supervised Injecting Centre - Get to know our story. Retrieved 6 February 2017 from

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

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2016). Drug consumption rooms: an overview of provision and evidence

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)

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: 07 February 2017

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