[16 July 2018] Last Saturday morning I found myself in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy – arguably one of Melbourne’s most eclectic streets – and home to a melting pot of artisans, hipsters, yuppies, baristas and baby boomers with excess retirement savings. I embrace every opportunity to mosey up and down this bohemian quaintness, secretly after something special I wasn’t particularly looking for.
This Saturday was no different. It was quite early and most shops were still closed. So I ambled a little further than before and to my astonishment, right there on the pavement in front of me, was a somewhat odd-looking vending machine.
Now you know when you have to blink and blink again to test whether you’re dreaming. This was one of those occasions. Afterwards I realised how utterly naïve I was, strolling cheerfully down Brunswick. For there, for the whole world to see, was a vending machine that dispenses packs of injecting equipment and disposable containers for syringes! All you need to do is choose a pack, enter your gender, your age and your postal code and, whala, totally free of charge, your requirement will come down the chute.
Why I was so terribly tempted to try out the machine I cannot explain.
I stood there, mesmerised by the shear thought of a drug user nonchalantly walking up to the machine and putting in the day’s order. And one, perhaps younger than 15, hastily scurrying off.
“Syringe Dispensing Units (SDUs) provide another option to accessing injecting equipment, particularly after hours and for people who may not want to enter health services or use an outreach service.”
According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation 6.3% of Australians aged 14 years and over have used crystal methamphetamines (or ice – as the small chunky clear crystals resemble ice) one or more times in their life. This stimulant drug is generally smoked or injected and the effects can be felt in 3 to 7 seconds. By the way – I do not recommend that you watch any of the countless videos showing how addicts come off the drug.
Thank my lucky stars that the only ice I ever encounter is in my G&T glass and as an entry on my mobile phone address book – the person who needs to be phoned In Case of Emergency.
Some animals are lucky, but some are more lucky than others.