Last week I was pleased to launch the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre's Art from the Heart of the Cross exhibition. The project aims to provide a safe and positive avenue for self-expression to those who use the Centre's services.
As local member for Bligh I shared the community's serious concerns about the number of young people injecting on the street and dying of overdoses in back lanes.
In 1997, following the Police Royal Commission, I was a member of the NSW Parliament's Joint Select Committee into Injecting Rooms. The Committee took compelling evidence from families whose children had died from overdosing, and information on effective action in other countries.
While the Majority Committee Report recommended the trial of injecting rooms not proceed, together with crossbenchers Ian Cohen, Ann Symonds and John Mills I compiled a minority report calling for a scientifically rigorous trial of safe injecting rooms as part of an integrated public health and safety approach.
Following a harrowing front page Sun Herald photo of a young boy shooting up in Caroline Lane, Redfern, Premier Bob Carr committed to a Drug Summit if Labor won the 1999 election.
The Summit brought together MPs, members of the legal and medical professions, church and community groups. My Motion to establish a supervised injecting centre received majority support.
Since the Centre's opening, residents and business operators in Kings Cross no longer see people slumped in doorways, streets and parks. St Vincent's sees much fewer overdose victims and most importantly, many lives have been saved.
It's an incredibly valuable service. Support it by going to Art from the Heart of the Cross, which runs until 18 September: https://whatson.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/events/art-from-the-heart-of-the-cross