General News Politics Sector News — 07 January 2014
Syringe vending machine trial supported by Victorian Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge

The Victorian Minister for Mental Health is supporting a trial of needle vending machines for injecting drug users in Melbourne.

The Yarra Drug and Health Forum wants to trial the machines so people can get clean syringes as an alternative to needle exchange programs or supervised injecting rooms.

Mary Wooldridge, the Minister for Mental Health, says too many people are sharing syringes and the Government is committed to stopping the spread of blood-borne viruses.

Syringe vending machines have been used in New South Wales since 1992 and are also being used in Queensland, the ACT, Western Australia and Tasmania.bigstock_Addiction_17280

Ms Wooldridge believes there are ways to stop them from being misused.

“You can have them coin-operated, you can have them situated at a height that makes it inaccessible for smaller people,” she said.

“You can have them at a location that is accessible, but also supervised.

“There has been an ongoing discussion with health services to see if this might be a way to extend access to sterile injecting equipment for drug users.”

The vending machines, which do not advertise their wares, are used as an alternative to staffed needle exchange programs.

This article first appeared on ‘ABC’ on 6 January 2014.

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