The mother of a Melbourne man who died of a heroin overdose in a CBD lane said another safe injection room is the only way to prevent such tragedies.
Katrina Korver’s 38-year-old son, Danial, was found by passers-by on Rainbow Alley last June after battling addiction.
Ms Korver said her son was previously a patron of the North Richmond safe injection room and used Rainbow Alley on his way home to “have a little privacy to shoot up.”
“He shouldn’t have died that day; he regularly used the facility in Richmond and if there was a drug injection room under medical supervision here in Melbourne, he would use it,” she said.
“As his mother, I have a duty to prevent this from happening to other families; that in the central business district, where heroin is plentiful, there is a drug injection room under medical supervision.”
Her call came after 80 Victorian leaders and community leaders signed an open letter to the government and the public asking for support for the opening of a safe injection room in the CBD.
Ms Korver went on to say that her family’s heartache was exacerbated by the fact that Danial’s life could have been saved if he had had access to a safe injection room on the day of his death.
“Daniel had every reason to live; he had a place to live, he had a son and he had a trade,” she said.
“As parents, we try to protect our children from drug use; we cannot protect them after they have begun this journey.
“Daniel did not deserve to die; he had something to live on. And we know that medically supervised drug injection rooms are open.”
Since then, the Korver family has placed a plaque and photo of Danial near the place where he overdosed to discourage people from using drugs in the alley.
Major Brendan Nottle of the Salvation Army’s Melbourne Project 614 said the drug problem in CBD had affected him greatly.
“Every month there is an overdose death in the city,” he said.
“The reality is that these numbers are not just statistics, nine of those who recently overdosed are my friends.
“These are people with whom I became very closely connected and I had a long relationship. I sat with a young man I met when he was nine years old, and at the age of 28 I held his hand when he died in intensive care due to a drug overdose.
“These people are not just statistics, these people are not just another piece of data – they are somebody’s brother, somebody’s sister, somebody’s daughter, somebody’s son… somebody’s friend.
“The reality is that these overdoses are completely unnecessary and will not happen if we provide them with adequate resources to restore their lives.”
Despite a lengthy planning process, the question of a suitable location for an injection parlor in the city remains unclear.
Two previous state government proposals, located near Flinders Street Station and Queen Victoria Market respectively, were rejected by neighboring residents and business owners.
A belated report from former police commissioner Ken Lay on the need for a second injection room is due midyear.
A spokesperson for the City of Melbourne said the location and timing of any potential injection room “should be carefully considered”.
“In August 2022, Melbourne City Council members endorsed the Council’s ongoing support of the Medically Supervised Injection Service in the City of Melbourne and requested a commitment from the state government to work with the Council in an ideal location,” she said.
Originally published as Mom’s Prayer for a Safe CBD Drug Injection Room