Drugged-up 'zombies' stumble through Melbourne amid drug crisis

Drugged-up ‘zombies’ stumble through Melbourne in the middle of the day as locals erupt over Richmond’s ‘safe injecting room’ near a primary school

  • There’s an ‘injection room’ for addicts in Richmond 
  • Residents say they’re tired of the drugged ‘zombies’
  • READ MORE: Full untold story of Melbourne gang boss Kazem Hamad

Zombified drug addicts stumble through the street after shooting up not far from a primary school.

Others lie motionless in the gutter, unable to speak, while parents walk their children past as swiftly as they possibly can.

The ones that can speak scream out and swear – leaving families afraid to step outside.

No this isn’t a crime-addled ghetto in a troubled city in America, or a desolate town in a bleak war-torn nation – this is just another day in Melbourne.

Frustrated residents living near a controversial ‘injection room’ in the suburb of Richmond are tired of pleading for the site to be moved away from a local primary school.

Parents and neighbours say children at Melbourne’s Richmond West Primary School are constantly exposed to drugged-up ‘zombies’ from the medically supervised injection room (MSIR). 

Richmond residents say they’re tired of finding drugged ‘zombies’ through the streets due to a medically supervised injection room, located next door to the local primary school (pictured, a man near the MSIR)

The medically supervised injection room provides a legal loophole for drug users as police cannot make drug-related arrests within a 300m radius (pictured, a man lying on the street across from the MSIR)

The school is located next door to the MSIR at North Richmond Community Health, some 3.5km east of the city’s CBD.

Former Victorian premier Daniel Andrews argued the MSIR is a way for addicts to inject drugs in a safe environment where medical staff are on-hand in case of an overdose.

The state’s health department claims the MSIR has ‘successfully managed almost 6,750 overdoses’. 

However, residents argue the area has turned into a safe-haven for drug users who are attracted to the suburb due to a legal loophole that prevents drug-related arrests within 300m of the room.

Every day photos of people lying in public parks and gutters are shared online, often showing young children looking on just metres away.

Another concerning issue for residents is the increasing number of discarded needles left on footpaths, at playgrounds and in parks.

This week alone, more than a dozen posts have been made on the Move the Injection Room Facebook page pushing for the MSIR to be shifted to a quieter area.

‘Everything is being done to enable addiction and nothing to stop it,’ one wrote.

‘Where is the evidence of risk assessment to nearby children in the primary school and child care centre? Where is the concern for the physical and mental safety of the broader community?,’ another said.

Many residents have been left frustrated by users leaving dangerous syringes in public areas (pictured, a phone box in Richmond with a needle left on the shelf)

One outraged resident listed all the ways life in Richmond has changed since the MSIR was introduced. 

‘An enormous rise in discarded needles and other injecting accoutrements,’ she said.

‘The primary school being fortified and security guards employed to try to keep the children safe from drugged up intruders. The loitering and open injecting.

‘Foul language being screamed at all hours. Frequent violence, sometimes with weapons, between the drugged up loiterers. Residents afraid to walk on their streets.

‘Overdose deaths in our streets discovered by residents. Frequent collapses from overdoses with residents given no choice but to try and assist.’

A report from public health research group Penington Institute published in August found there were 2,231 drug-induced deaths reported in Australia in 2021, amounting to one death every four hours.

Of those, 1,675 were unintentional. 

‘The annual number of unintentional drug-induced deaths surpassed the road toll in 2014,’ it said.

‘The gap between the two has continued to widen ever since.’

The MSIR is next door to Richmond West Primary School, meaning young children often see people injecting drugs and passed-out on the streets (pictured, man in Richmond near MSIR)

READ MORE: Ambos fight to save man who overdosed in ‘drug den’ carpark next to injecting room

The report warns that the numbers are likely to rise as the data is revised and finalised in coming years.

The most common drug found in people’s systems was opioids, contributing to 45.7 per cent of overdose deaths in 2021.

Opioids, which are prescribed as pain relief but are often linked to addiction and abuse, were found in 81 per cent of deaths involving multiple substances.

Melbourne is particularly effected by Australia’s drug crisis with data from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission showing it had the highest levels of heroin, ketamine and fentanyl consumption of any Australian capital city.

While many Richmond residents are all for finding a way to help those battling addiction, they believe the injection room isn’t a sustainable solution.

Data from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission found Melbourne had the highest levels of heroin, ketamine and fentanyl consumption of any Australian capital (pictured, a man on the ground near the MSIR)

No one is saying the room brought drugs here but it was mostly contained [before]. What the room has done, and not to blame the users but the government that placed it there, is moved it into our families,’ one person wrote.

‘The room and surrounds have become a hangout for those using and dealing.

‘Users are part of our community, some we are friendly with, others not. You invited all of Melbourne’s users into the area … the numbers are out of control. When you know police won’t touch you, the habit gets worse. 

‘To all of you respectful users thank you, to those that are so affected they aren’t in control of their behaviours, I am sorry you didn’t get the help you really needed.’

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