Push for needle exchange

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph
Camera IconSyringe Credit: Getty Images

A needle exchange program is being called for in Port Hedland after an increase in discarded syringes found around town.

Resident Dean Davis took to social media and the Town of Port Hedland ordinary council meeting last month calling for support for a program in a bid to reduce harm to local children and animals.

“Doing my own research, talking and asking questions I quickly found that a lot of people felt the same,” he said.

“I have asked for the removal of advertising needle disposal/use locations on and around children’s playgrounds.”

Currently there is no needle exchange program in Hedland.

“However, the WA Country Health Service Pilbara Population Health began developing a voluntary program last month.

WACHS Pilbara regional director Margi Faulkner said while planning and community consultation got started, a free needle and syringe exchange program was operating out of the Hedland Health Campus and Well Women’s Centre.

“The purpose of the needle and syringe distribution program is to prevent the spread of blood-borne viruses such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C by making available clean injecting equipment and thereby minimising the public health risk associated with these diseases,” she said.

“National and international research indicates that providing clean injecting equipment does not increase injecting drug use.”

A Town of Port Hedland spokeswoman said the Town would be open to discussions on opportunities for an exchange program with WACHS and it would an active approach to the issue.

“Inappropriately disposed needles are a problem experienced by many communities across Australia,” she said.

“The Town of Port Hedland takes any potential risk to community safety seriously.

“The Town is actively working with key stakeholders through the Hedland Community Safety Advisory forum ... and will certainly be discussing options regarding needle disposal.”

If members of the community find a needle which has been incorrectly disposed of, they are encouraged to report the matter directly to the Town of Port Hedland for collection.

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