Drug charges for injecting chief
The CEO of a Melbourne safe injecting room has been arrested on drug trafficking charges.
Speaking earlier this year, injecting room chief Matthew Honey claimed he had helped oversee about 200 overdoses while working at Richmond’s medically-supervised injecting room.
Forty-nine-year-old Matthew Honey - who was even named Yarra's drug and alcohol worker of 2018 - has been picked up among six arrests during police raids on Burnside Heights and Richmond homes over the weekend.
He was charged with trafficking alongside another woman who worked with him as an outreach worker at the recently opened injection centre on Lennox Street in North Richmond.
Police say none of the alleged offences happened inside the facility.
The North Richmond facility opened in June 2018 for an 18-month trial. It has since seen over 60,000 visits and managed more than 1,800 overdoses without a death.
Outreach workers go out to drug using communities and encourage them to use the facilities of the health centre, including the injecting rooms.
“It's been an enormous disappointment overnight obviously with the alleged behaviour of people in relation to the outreach service,” acting Mental Health Minister Luke Donnellan told reporters.
The Government announced an urgent review of the facility.
“Those allegations are simply unacceptable, and to be blunt, undermine the safe injecting service,” Mr Donnellan said.
The arrests come after a three-month investigation targeting drug trafficking.
“The trafficking of drugs causes significant harm in the community, which is why we are absolutely committed to arresting these offenders and putting them before the court,” Acting Superintendent Kelvin Gale said.
“While we recognise those who use illicit drugs have a health problem, we also know that drugs are a big contributor to crime in Victoria.”
Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien called for the facility to be separated from a co-located needle exchange centre, maternal health centre and neighbouring school.
“There may have been some lives that have been saved, so that's why the trial isn't necessarily a bad idea, but the location of this is shocking,” he told reporters.
“It turns out that allegedly the counsellors are the ones who are giving them the drugs.”
The centre is due to be reviewed in June 2020 to decide of it will continue to operate.