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Saving Lives and SIF: Aaron’s story

Tracy Parish

31 October, 2017

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Saving lives like Aaron’s is at the forefront of the Victorian Government’s announcement today of a two-year trial of a Supervised Injecting Facility (SIF) in Richmond, Victoria.

Sadly Aaron died from an accidental heroin overdose in Richmond. But a meeting between his mum Cherie and the Victorian Premier, the Hon Daniel Andrews MP has led to today’s historic announcement of a two-year SIF trial.

“We warmly welcome the Victorian Government’s support of the SIF trial in Richmond where dozens of lives have been lost to heroin overdoses in recent years,” Burnet’s Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb AC said.

“Aaron’s story is heartbreaking. His death and those of many others has led to this landmark SIF trial in Richmond in a bid to save lives from overdose.

“Evidence over more than 20 years evaluating SIFs in Sydney and overseas has shown that such facilities do save lives.”

Burnet Program Director, Behaviours and Health Risks, Professor Paul Dietze, said a detailed evaluation of the service would be required to inform longer-term planning beyond the two-year trial period.

“A comprehensive and careful evaluation of any SIF in North Richmond will also be needed to fully understand its impact in the area going forward.”

Find out more about Burnet’s work in Behaviours and Health Risks, and reducing harms relating to injecting drug use.

Aaron’s Story

Via his personal twitter handle @DanielAndrewsMP, the Victorian Premier has posted a turning point in his stance regarding a SIF trial when he met Aaron’s mother, Cherie. Below is a snapshot of those tweets.

“When we first met, Cherie told me a story I’ll never forget. It was a little accident at home that started Aaron’s heroin addition.

“His doctors prescribed him with opioid-based pain medication after some minor surgery. He came home with a whole box of it. And that was it.

“That’s how easily addiction starts for so many young people. That addiction took hold of Aaron’s life for eight years.

“But he was brave. He was strong. And with the help of his family, he pulled himself out of it.

“He was clear for 12 months straight. Healthy. Working hard. He met a girl. He was going to propose.

“He was even studying to become a drug and alcohol counsellor. Things were falling into place.

“But recovery isn’t a straight line. Aaron relapsed.

His mum said, “He came home…we had a little chat, had a very nice moment together… and we said goodnight.”

“Aaron died that night of an accidental heroin overdose. His best mate followed him soon after.

“This. This is what’s happening to our sons and daughters.

“We’re losing kids like Aaron at a shocking rate. And we’re losing them to what can only be described as a full-blown public health crisis.

“I know there is no one simple solution here – but when a grieving mum says something like this, you listen: “If he had an option to either risk injecting alone, or being able to do so within a safe environment, he would have chosen the latter.”

“Aaron wanted life,” she said. “He didn’t want to die.”

“I told Cherie this earlier, and now I can tell you:

  1. Our Government will establish a medically-supervised injecting room.
  2. It will be at the North Richmond Community Health Centre.
  3. The legislation to do this will be introduced into Parliament today – because this cannot wait any longer.

“This is the safety-first, medical approach we need. Supported by doctors, needed by users, and pleaded by families.

“Aaron’s death was avoidable. He was a good, young man who loved his family so much. His mum said that “even in his darkest days – he cared.”

“Well, I believe the state owes her the same care and compassion that she gave her son every single day.

“Cherie– we owe it to you, and all the families like yours, to do whatever it takes to save lives. I hope to God we don’t let you down.”

Source: @DanielAndrewsMP tweets

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Burnet Institute

communications@burnet.edu.au

Telephone

+61392822111

Email

communications@burnet.edu.au

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