Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (5 August) . . Page.. 3595..
example for roaming buses after hours. This was an issue that was raised with me when I first met with a range of indigenous health carers, and community representatives, and asked their views on vending machines.
The plans that this bill will allow to be put into place is to set up the vending machines outside the Belconnen, Civic, and Woden, Tuggeranong Health Centres. Other sites may be developed, in consultation with relevant communities. Mechanisms will be put in place for safe disposal of used syringes; and the sites will be closely monitored.
I'd also encourage the government to work carefully with local communities to ensure that understanding is built well before the machines go in. Being open early will ensure that people are informed, and there's a genuine opportunity to hear people out and perhaps modify designs, or perhaps just having the opportunity to allay fears in other ways. At the very least, as you can't expect everyone to support this, despite the sound reasons for it, people will not feel dismissed or snuck-up on.
The model of contracting the operation out, including clear requirements about keeping the machines stocked, and the area clean, should avoid the problems that have occurred in some places in NSW, where the machines were bought outright, but then maintenance was not kept up.
Siting the machines at health centres is being done in an effort to make at least some connection with a health service. They also offer opportunities to site the machines just off general public view, but not too secluded.
This is not the answer on its own to all of the outstanding issues. There are still issues of access for some sectors of the community to be resolved. For instance, as the committee recommended, there is a need for culturally appropriate education campaigns regarding safe injecting practices are available to the Indigenous community. The committee made several recommendations specific to the needs of the Indigenous community around needle and syringe programs.
Also, we are still waiting for the government to find a way for people on remand or in prison to have access to clean needles. The committee saw appalling evidence of harm caused by sharing and re-use of needles in corrections, including greater spread of Hepatitis C throughout the community. The committee recommended that the new prison has purpose Meanwhile, the Government's new alcohol and drug strategy promises that people inside corrections facilities will have access to the same health services as people in the general community - the government needs to sort out the stand off between health and the concerns of corrections.
I commend the Government's work in implementing this recommendation of the Health Committee's report, and I look forward to their work on the remaining recommendations.