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Dispensing information, while pushing ahead

Sydney Local Health District (SLHD) pushed ahead with the installation of the Automatic Dispensing Machine (ADM) in front of the Redfern Health Centre without mentioning it at a public meeting on January 29. In contrast to the December meeting where locals opposing the installation primarily argued their objections with representatives of SLHD, this meeting was independently facilitated and featured a more balanced discussion about the issues with many supporters of the ADM in attendance reports Geoff Turnbull & Justine McNamara in the February 2013 edition of the South Sydney Herald.
Artist impression of Dispensary in Redfern Street (Image: Supplied)
Artist impression of Dispensary in Redfern Street (Image: Supplied)

In the meantime, SLHD has released the material setting out the case for the facility presented in October and presented written answers to some of the key issues raised as well as an updated Management Plan for the facility. Community nominations for an Implementation Working Group were asked for at the end of the meeting.

Central to SLHD’s argument is that Redfern-Waterloo has almost twice the HIV rate of the NSW average and three times the national average. According to SLHD the Hepatitis C rates in Redfern-Waterloo are 10 per cent above the state and national average. According to SLHD, “the Redfern-Waterloo area accounted for 30 per cent (1,055 patients over 3 years) of all treatment/interventions provided by drug health services within the Sydney Local Health District”.

SLHD already has development approval for the ADM as it was included in the original Redfern Health Centre DA. Attendees at the October public meeting it was suggested they should instead place an ADM at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. In January they advised that one had been installed at the hospital and would commence in the near future but as an additional facility not a substitute. There was a push for the machine to be placed close to the police and railway stations but this was not considered practical by Redfern Police or SLHD. Some argued that Redfern did not have a drug problem and that the problem was in Waterloo so the machine should be moved there, but this was met by assurances that drug use was equally high in Redfern.

The main argument used by Health is that it is attached to one of their buildings on a main street where it is highly unlikely people will stop to shoot up. They operate 150 ADMs across the state. Dr Theresa Anderson, the Chief Executive of SLHD reported to the meeting that in all their video surveillance there had only been one incident of a child accessing a machine and in this case they were on video being taught by an adult who was subsequently referred to DOCs under child protection.

At the end of the meeting Dr Anderson introduced Kate Reakes, the new Harm Minimisation Manager covering Redfern and Waterloo. Kate will not only deal with harm minimisation issues in Redfern-Waterloo but she will also fulfill a community health liaison role announced in October in response to representations by REDWatch. This additional role is aimed to help address broader community health issues, working with both the community and other service agencies to ensure that the people can locate the services they need and that in complex cases there is a more coordinated approach.

This was the position taken in the print issue of SSH which went to press prior to receiving this statement from Dr Teresa Anderson, Chief Executive of Sydney Local Health District (SLHD).

For more information contact Kate Reakes 0427 550 782 or view the SLHD papers

on the REDWatch website.


Source: www.southsydneyherald.com.au/dispensing-information-while-pushing-ahead/#.URHMl2ciuN4