Needles and syringes in gaol? Ask the prisoners
At security checkpoint 2 of the Alexander Maconochie Centre (‘AMC’, the ACT gaol), I was asked by a prison officer if I support the implementation of a needle syringe program (‘NSP’) into the AMC, and if the answer was no, could I please add my signature to the officers’ petition.
The Public Health Association of Australia (‘PHAA’) was commissioned by the ACT government to engage in, investigate and report on models for the implementation of an NSP at the AMC. Its report, Balancing Access and Safety: Meeting the challenge of blood borne viruses in prison, was released on 19 July. In the report the PHAA recommends legislative changes to assist the implementation of a needle and syringe program in the AMC; establishing clear rules and procedures; designing an implementation plan to ensure optimal health and safety outcomes for prison staff, the broader community, and prisoners; and providing supportive measures such as an Aboriginal Health Worker for the NSP, secure syringe disposal bins, and monitoring developments in retractable syringe technology.