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Public Needle And Syringe Disposal Facilities Launched

Community applauds the establishment of safe needle and syringe disposal facilities in major towns

By Latrobe City Council - 18th May 2002 - Back to News

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Latrobe City, in partnership with the Latrobe Community Health Service, has established easy-access, safe needle and syringe disposal facilities in all major towns in the municipality.

The new, disposal facilities are located in the entrance foyers of the Latrobe Community Health Services in Fowler Street Moe, Phillip Parade Churchill, and Seymour Street Traralgon; and near the public toilets at the rear of the Morwell Post Office.

Speaking at the launch of the 24 hour facilities, Latrobe City Mayor, Councillor Brendan Jenkins said that these facilities were for public disposal of needles and syringes, that if not disposed of safely, became a potential health hazard.

"There are people in our community who need to inject themselves with insulin or medication. While these people tend to be aware of the dangers of needle stick injury and already dispose of their needles responsibly, the new sharps disposals containers will provide them with an additional service. The new containers also cater for the more recently introduced multiple dose packs which were previously difficult to dispose of.

"In today’s society there is also an inappropriate disposal of needles and syringes by injecting drug users, which is a source of significant community concern; and the placement of these containers encourages a more responsible attitude to safe disposal," Cr Jenkins said.

"The State Government of Victoria introduced a state-wide needle and syringe program back in 1987 and has continued to encourage an associated safe disposal scheme at the same time," Cr Jenkins added.

Public concern over the possibility of needle stick injury from discarded injecting equipment emerged forcefully after a needle stick injury at Elwood Beach in Melbourne in January 2000.

"The problem of inappropriate disposal is raised constantly in various locations and communities around Victoria. With that in mind, Latrobe City and the Community Health Service has taken this important initiative to establish safe disposal which is available to all those who use such devices whether prescribed or illicit," Cr Jenkins said.

"The public is encouraged to safely dispose of needles and syringes in these facilities in preference to disposal via public or domestic, household waste collection services," Cr Jenkins continued.

Also at the launch, Ms Valerie Callister, CEO of the Latrobe Community Health Service, said that her service had a mobile drug safety worker whose primary role was to reduce harms associated with injecting drug use within the community and to the individual.

"The worker can provide education, support, information and safety to injecting drug users and families and associates of drug using individuals. The Mobile Drug Safety worker can be contacted on 0438 128 919 or at LCHS on 5134 2011," Ms Callister said.

Henk Harberts, Latrobe’s Community Safety Planner said that the incidence of prescribed medical and veterinary use of syringes has also increased in the community in recent times.

"Correct, safe disposal is also relevant for these groups. The motto is treat every needle as if it has got the potential to infect," Mr Harberts added.

"Safe needle and syringe disposal makes for a safer community and despite the actual low risk of infection from discarded needles, we are delighted that safe handling and disposal techniques and services are now available locally, round the clock," Mr Harberts concluded.

A state-wide free call, drug help line is also available at 1800 136 385.


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