The North Richmond Medically Supervised Injecting Room is back in the news. Following on from a substantially positive review released last month, Dictator Dan Andrews has confirmed that the injecting room, which began as a trial in 2018, will become permanent. This news has shaken the usual nuts out of the usual tree, and my daughters’ school, which sits next door to the medical centre housing the injecting room, has also been in the news. This has been annoying, with the familiar, annoying reporters, and the familiar, annoying pleas:
Some of the media coverage has been restrained and factual, but plenty has been Murdochesque trash, pretending to innocently report residents’ fears while blatantly stoking those fears. 3AW has been the worst, and Tom Elliot has been the worst of the worst. I’ve written about the injecting room and the awful reporting previously, twice, and there is not too much else to say. But I think there is an important point to make now.
I’ve listened to all the coverage and read all the reporting I could find, and two things seemed clear: first, almost no one appears to know what they are talking about; secondly, almost no one cares. It’s pretty much all been anecdote and baseless conjecture and unsupported declaration. Plenty of the commentary and interviews have been absurdly self-contradictory.
North Richmond is a difficult area and the residents have reasonable concerns. But it is still common sense for residents, and obligatory for commentators, to treat these concerns reasonably, on the basis of truth. Which brings us back to the independent review. Which, seemingly, almost no one has read.
The review of the injecting room does not appear to me to be a whitewash. Whilst in sum positive on the injecting room, the report notes the on-going issues of drug-taking and drug refuse in the surrounding area, and residents’ concern about these. There is strong information that counters the rabble-rousing, but there is also at least some information that supports it. But it doesn’t matter. None of the shock-jocks inflaming the issue, none of the distraught residents interviewed, seem to have read the review. None seem to give a damn about first being informed. Clearly, they have no time for data when there are lurid tales to tell.