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Redfern automatic syringe dispensing machine Operational - 11th April 2013

Sydney Local Health District advised the community on 11 April 2013 that the automatic syringe dispensing machine outside the Redfern Community Health Centre is now fully operational as part of Sydney Local Health District’s campaign to combat unacceptably high levels of HIV and hepatitis C infections among injecting drug users in the Redfern area.

The ADM was installed in February in response to statistics showing Redfern has one of the highest rates of HIV and hepatitis C in Australia, partly due to high levels of injecting drug activity.

HIV rates among injecting drugs users in the area are three times the national rate, and hepatitis C rates are 10 per cent higher than anywhere else in Australia.

The ADM has not been operational since its installation following a community request to the City of Sydney Council to install an additional sharps waste disposal bin in Redfern Park.

It is understood consultation on that issue is continuing, but due to Sydney Local Health District’s statutory responsibility to address high infection rates in Redfern, it was deemed necessary to proceed with operating the syringe dispensing service.

The decision to install the machine was announced at a public meeting in Redfern on January 29, following 20 consultations in 10 months with residents and stakeholders.

There are more than 150 ADMs operating across NSW. They have been used in Australia for more than 25 years as part of a highly effective, multi-pronged state and national initiative to reduce HIV and hepatitis C infection rates among injecting drug users.

The ADM will be subject to a 12-month evaluation by the University of Sydney.

In response to community requests, the District has also installed an additional ADM at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, employed a harm minimisation manager and community liaison officer for residents in the Redfern-Waterloo area and formed an ADM Implementation Working Group involving interested members of the community.

The District has also formed a Human Services Group with senior staff from Redfern Police, City of Sydney Council, NSW Housing, Family and Community Services, Department of Education and Corrective Services.

This group meets monthly and has already identified strategies to enhance services in Redfern, Waterloo and Darlington.

The meetings are proving highly effective in allowing agencies the freedom to exchange sensitive and confidential information relating to Redfern’s complex social and welfare issues.

 The ADM is operational after hours and the District will continue to conduct thrice-daily sweeps of the area for used syringes.  Any residents finding used injecting equipment are encouraged to call the 24-hour hotline on 1800 633 353.