In 2001, Sydney opened its first Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) in Kings Cross in an effort to reduce the harms associated with intravenous drug use. Referred to as 'the last brave thing that happened' in drug reform, the introduction of MSIC has significantly aided public health measures like overdose prevention and lessened the transmission of blood-borne viruses.
However, new research conducted by CCJL Member Dr George (Kev) Dertadian and Professor Stephen Tomsen of Western Sydney University shows that the benefits of MSCI’s are not limited to traditional public health metrics.
As part of a larger study of the experience of violence among Australian men, Dr Dertadian and Professor Tomsen, completed a collection of 20 qualitative semi-structured interviews with male clients of Sydney’s MSIC in Kings Cross between 2016 and 2020. These private interviews focused on the clients’ experiences of drug use and general life experience of violence, law enforcement, safety and security.
In analysing the experiences of MSIC clients, Dr Dertadian and Professor Tomsen posit a ‘wider understanding of safety' that encompasses physical, mental, and other proximate issues of health. The research shows how the MSIC has provided clients with a wider sense of security that served to counterbalance the social marginalisation of their daily lives. The stories from male clients found in the research illustrates how the centre acts as an important reprieve from harassment and violence from police and members of the public, conflict in drug deals, and general social exclusion.
Beyond operating as ‘a safe haven from health harms’, MSIC evidently serves to bring a real sense of safety and security in their clients’ daily lives. Such an effect cannot be discounted as part of the evidence base and adds to a growing chorus of calls for more safe injecting facilities to be opened throughout Sydney should be listened to.
Read the full article here.
CCLJ Intern 2022