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Redfern Mobile Needle Exchange Van To Close and New Primary Health Care Facility to Open

This News Release was issued by the NSW Premier to announce the closure of the Needle Exchange Van and the new Primary health Care Facility in Lawson Street Redfern. This News release was issued on Sunday 24th October 2004.

The NSW Government today announced a major enhancement of drug and alcohol services in Redfern with the establishment of a new primary health care facility to replace the existing mobile needle exchange van.

The Premier of NSW, Mr Bob Carr, said the new $1.5 million facility, to be located in Lawson St, will provide an expanded range of health and medical services not currently provided by the mobile needle exchange van.

"The community has expressed its serious, justifiable, reservations about the van," Mr Carr said.

"It is clear that it is now time to move forward, and the van will be closed.

'Redfern has a transitory population, a major transport hub and a pocket of disadvantage -this is what makes it unique.

"The Government has made the tough decision to close the van at Redfern and open an enhanced health care facility run by the Central Sydney Area Health Service.

"This health care facility will offer case management including a range of drug and alcohol services and an improved needle and syringe exchange.

"While I understand some peoples' reservations about the needle and syringe program, as a community we must recognise that this program has resulted in Australia having some of the lowest HIV and hepatitis C rates in the world.

"Authoritative studies show that Australia's early adoption of needle exchange programs has prevented more than 25,000 HIV infections and 21,000 cases of Hepatitis C between 1991 and 2000.

"We cannot turn our backs on the evidence which tells us these programs help prevent the spread of these diseases," Mr Carr said.

The new health care facility will provide:

  • Drug and alcohol related medical services including health assessments, treatment and care of drug related illnesses and a needle and syringe exchange;
  • Psychosocial support services including referrals into rehabilitation and counselling;
  • Enhanced Aboriginal Health Service activities including mental health, cardiovascular, legal and family support services;
  • Specialist visiting services including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C screening, sexual health, antenatal and post natal care.

The Premier rejected any suggestion for a Medically Supervised Injecting Room to be located in Redfern.

"Redfern is the wrong place for such a facility," Mr Carr said.

"The Government has only one trial for a medically supervised injecting room, which is currently operating in Kings Cross, I will not be changing this.

The establishment of a fixed primary health care facility goes above and beyond the recommendations of the Upper House Inquiry into Issues Relating to Redfern and Waterloo.

The Health Department is currently finalising the purchase of premises in Lawson St, which will be refurbished to provide suitable medical services.