cohealth welcomes announcement on North Richmond injecting room, and calls for CBD announcement

Released on 7th March 2023

Victorian not-for-profit community health service, cohealth, has welcomed the Victorian Government’s announcement that the North Richmond Medically Supervised Injecting Room will become permanent. 

cohealth also called on the Victorian Government to lock-in the second injecting service in the face of rising drug harms in the CBD, with double the number of overdoses in the past four months compared to this time last year. 

cohealth’s Chief Executive, Nicole Bartholomeusz said, “We applaud the government on its leadership and taking the action required to save lives and transform lives.” 

cohealth is the Victorian Government’s preferred provider of a CBD supervised injecting service, a service that would alleviate the pressure on the North Richmond service and prevent overdoses in the CBD.  

cohealth Chief Executive Nicole Bartholomeusz says that it’s time to get on with opening the CBD facility.  

“When we see increases in people dying from entirely preventable causes, we expect our governments to respond, and drug overdoses should be no different.” 

“The decision to make North Richmond permanent acknowledges that supervised injecting facilities save lives and connect people with support and treatment. 

“Drug use and overdoses in the CBD are showing no sign of decline. Things are as bad, if not worse, than pre-COVID,” said Ms Bartholomeusz. 

Ms Bartholomeusz says that as a health service working at the frontline, cohealth sees firsthand the devastating health impact of drug use on vulnerable people, and the broader CBD community.  

cohealth’s CBD outreach team, City Street Health, have responded to one overdose per month since September, compared to three overdoses for the whole of January-September 2022.  

Victorian ambulance data also reflects the ongoing drug harms in the CBD, with 390 heroin-related ambulance attendances in the 2021-22 period, higher than pre-COVID levels. 

Table: Number of heroin-related ambulance attendances in the City of Melbourne (Source: Turning Point, Ambulance Victoria attendances) 

2021-22  390   
2020-21  305   
2019-20  423   
2018-19  404   
2017-18  322   
2016-17  298   
2015-16  243   
2014-15  138   
2013-14  171   


People dealing with a diagnosable health condition of drug addiction are dying in laneways and public toilets and every day without an injecting service in the CBD, we are risking further loss of life,” says Ms Bartholomeusz.  

“We are heartbroken about the number of lives that continue to be lost from drug overdoses, especially because we know that if a supervised injecting service was available, a great number of those people may still be alive.”  


— Ends — 

More on cohealth: 

cohealth is one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all.  cohealth provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical, oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services.  


more information:  Lanie Harris 0418 552 377 

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