Health Department refuses to rule out injecting room on iconic Melbourne laneway

Locating Melbourne's second injecting room opposite the city's iconic Degraves Street tourist mecca is still on the cards, according to the Victorian Government's Health Department.

Earlier this year, rumours surfaced the Andrews Labor Government had bought the 'Yooralla' building on Flinders Street in the heart of the CBD as part of a plan to establish Melbourne's second injecting room.

The plan generated fierce opposition from local traders, Melbourne City Council and The Police Association.

Under questioning at the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) today, Health Department Secretary Prof Euan Wallace refused to rule out the inclusion of an injecting room as part of the services planned for the site.

Prof Wallace confirmed the State Government had bought the building in April 2021 for “wrap around health services for vulnerable people”.

In July 2020, Ken Lay was engaged by the Andrews Labor Government to identify a site for Melbourne’s second injecting room – including wrap-around health services for vulnerable people.

During PAEC hearings in December 2020, Minister Foley said that while Ken Lay’s report was late, he was “still hopeful” that the report would be published before Christmas.

However, almost a year later, the report still has not been made public.

Comment attributable to Shadow Minister for Mental Health Emma Kealy

The Andrews Labor Government should be focussed on initiatives to reopen, recover and rebuild the vibrancy of Melbourne’s CBD after two years of the Premier's lockdowns.

Instead, the Government is focused on further destroying Melbourne’s iconic laneway cafe culture by putting an injecting room at the gateway to Melbourne’s CBD.

There's no doubt we need to take action to support those Victorians who have done it hardest through the pandemic.

The first step must be proactive measures to get more mental health specialists on the ground because at the moment, the under-resourced workforce just can't keep up.