MELBOURNE, July 31— More Victorians will be killed by heroin than by car crashes within two years, data released on Monday revealed.
The number of Victorians who died from heroin overdoses has risen 71 percent since 2012 to 190 in 2016, the Coroners Court data revealed.
Simultaneously, the state’s road toll has been on the decline with the number of people killed on the roads expected to be 250 in 2017, down from 291 in 2016.
If the trend continues, it will be the first time that heroin kills more Victorians than car crashes.
Geoff Munro, national policy manager for the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, said the prominence of heroin had reached levels on par with the mid-1990s due to the plummeting cost of the drug.
Residents of areas where heroin use is highest have appealed to the Victorian government to build a safe injecting room so as to reduce the risk of infection and overdoses, a move the government has ruled out.
“We are disappointed that Victoria cannot follow the example of New South Wales (NSW) of a supervised injecting room where people can get the medical assistance they need in case of an overdose,” Munro told Australian media.
“With action and evidence-based action, we have done a brilliant job in reducing the road toll and we can the same with the heroin toll and actually save the public a lot of costs.”
North Richmond, just 3 km from Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD), has been hit hardest by the rise of heroin. Nearly half the heroin-related deaths in the area occurred in public places.
Judy Ryan, a spokesperson for a safe injecting advocacy group, said a trial of an injecting room was overdue.
“We always rightly look at the road toll and now we should now be considering the drug toll,” Ryan said.
“Victoria has always been a leader in a road safety in so many ways when you talk about harm reduction and we’re good at that.” (Xinhua)