CALLS FOR NEEDLE EXCHANGE MOVE RENEWED AFTER ROUNDHOUSE TOILETS CLOSED
The Roundhouse toilet block was closed indefinitely on Friday by the City council after drugs and drug paraphernalia were found stored in the children’s toilets and cleaners were threatened.
The closure of the toilet block on the corner of Blende and Chloride Streets has prompted renewed calls for needle exchange programs and dispensers to be moved out of the central business district.
On Friday afternoon, Jay Nankevill, Council’s General Manager, said they were closing the facility indefinitely.
“We had a situation on Friday where a group of around a dozen people tried to prevent staff from cleaning the toilets as there were drugs and drug paraphernalia being stored and used in the children’s toilet,” Mr Nankevill said.
“We’ll look to hold discussions with police to see how we can help solve this issue, and also investigate what further security measures can be put in place in the area,” Mr Nankevill said.
“We realise closing the toilet is not a long-term solution, but for now we cannot allow it to remain open when staff cannot safely service and maintain it.”
Mayor Tom Kennedy took to social media over the weekend and called for Far West Local Health District (FWLHD) to, “move its clean needle dispenser from CBD to the hospital where it can be adequately supervised and away from the centre of main public area”.
“The use of drugs and injecting being encouraged to our CBD is causing unsafe areas that are becoming dangerous to the community,” Cllr Kennedy said, before calling on the community to contact their “local state member and the minister for health to have the needle dispenser moved (before someone is badly injured)”.
Don Barron, who heads the support group Feeding Friends uses the area to feed the homeless regularly and he says he isn’t sure moving the needle exchange to the hospital is going to benefit users of the toilet block.
“People are still going to be able to get free needles and do what they choose, whether they choose to do it in a household or it in a back lane, or at the roundhouse toilets,” Mr Barron told the Truth.
Mr Barron suggested police have more regular patrols around the area. He added that a major rehabilitation facility – which is not available in Broken Hill – was crucial to fixing the longstanding issue.
“A full rehabilitation centre is a vital thing that Broken Hill needs. I’m not talking about somewhere someone can go and dry out for five days. I’m talking about a program that would last 6 to 12 months,” Mr Barron said.
A FWLHD spokesperson told us they had nothing further to add to comments they gave in April on the needle exchange issue, repeating that they carried out regular monitoring of used injecting equipment disposal, and frequent clean-ups, particularly in known or high-risk locations.
“Any community member who encounters sharps should not attempt to dispose of them, they should contact the NSW Needle Clean-Up Hotline via 1800 633 353, who will coordinate the clean-up as soon as possible,” a FWLHD spokesperson told the Truth.