Background: Public drug markets and injecting impose significant burden on individuals and the community. This study aimed to document public injecting and amenity in North Richmond, an inner-city suburb of Melbourne, Australia.
Methods: A rapid assessment methodology was employed. Data comprised: secondary data on drug use indicators, structured observations and interviews with key stakeholders. Primary data were collected from May to October 2012. Quantitative data are summarised using descriptive statistics. Basic content analysis was performed on interview transcripts.
Results: An average of 1843 needle–syringes (NS) were collected per month from syringe disposal bins and street-sweeps in the period January–December 2012. Discarded NS and other injecting paraphernalia were observed in a variety of locations. Stakeholder interviews indicated substantial concerns over the presence of NS and witnessing injecting and overdose.
Discussion: Public injecting is widespread, frequent, and highly visible in North Richmond and has a substantial negative effect on public amenity. The research identified two main priorities: (1) enhance access to harm reduction services and materials; and (2) improve public amenity. Among other responses, the study findings support the introduction of a supervised injecting facility (SIF) as a viable component of a comprehensive harm reduction response to illicit drug use in this area.