An ugly situation has been growing across Broken Hill’s CBD with discarded used syringes increasingly found across the busiest parts of the Silver City, as calls mount for a drug rehabilitation clinic to be set-up in town.
A large area of concern is Crystal Lane, backing onto hotels, clubs and restaurants, which means high foot traffic in the area. The area is possibly impacted by the fact fit packs can be freely collected at the Broken Hill Community Health Centre on the corner of Sulphide and Crystal Street and backs on to the lane in question.
Residents, business owners and councillors are all concerned about the issue, and worried about the potential for a pedestrian, or a child, to get pricked by one of the discarded needles.
One local businessman told us he had found upwards of 70 used syringes in the car park of his business in the space of just a weekend. This was confirmed by a maintenance man Barrier Truth staff encountered while sourcing pictures for this story.”I am here daily picking up used syringes,” he said.
Councillor Michael Boland has flagged the need for more services to help people using and discarding the syringes and is calling for support from the state government to help build a drug rehabilitation clinic.
“I think people that have developed an addiction, no matter the reason, deserve a lot more from society than getting needles from a dark laneway at two in the morning.
“We’ve got plenty of support from the local business community with pledges of land and money for a rehab facility, but we need the help of the state government. They need to come out here and help. Let’s get this underway,” Councillor Boland told the Truth.
It’s not just funding the sector requires. There is also a skill shortage, something that Mr Boland believes local people with a passion for support work can be trained to do, though it all hinges on state government funding.
“Yes, we need skilled staff, too. I think looking locally, upskilling some local people that have a passion and a heart for that kind of stuff would be ideal. So, we need a training budget as well. That way we can train our local people who have a heart and a passion for helping people who might be going through the hardest part of their life,” Cllr Boland said.
Another area of concern are the public bathrooms on the corner of Blende and Chloride Streets. The yellow sharps bins there are consistently damaged, leading to the area often being littered with syringes.
Mayor Tom Kennedy says it is leading to a situation where the sharps bins are adding to the issue rather than rectifying the problem.
“You’d think more sharps bins would be a good solution, but apparently what happens is they’re broken into to see if there’s anything left in the syringes, so they can be as big of a problem as the needles themselves.
“(The CBD) is probably the worst place you could possibly hand out hypodermic needles. It was supposed to be a needle exchange program, I don’t think too many needles are going back or we wouldn’t have 100 on the street,” Cllr Kennedy says.
A spokesperson for the Far West Local Health District said it works closely with health agencies, local government, and law enforcement, sharing responsibility to reduce the risk of people encountering sharps in the community.
“This includes coordinated and regular monitoring of used injecting equipment disposal, and frequent clean-ups, particularly in known or high-risk locations,” the spokesperson told us.
“Any community member who encounters sharps should not attempt to dispose of them,” said the spokesperson.
“They should contact the NSW Needle Clean-Up Hotline via 1800 633 353, who will coordinate the clean-up as soon as possible.”