ANEX Response to “Nurses Reject Prison Needles”

The ACT branch of the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) has not rejected the principle of needle and syringe exchange in a prison setting, despite what was reported in City News

The ANF discussed the PHAA report with members in the Alexander Machonochie Centre, as well as nurses in the AMC who are not members.

Having read the ANF submission to the ACT Government, it is clear that there is strong support for an exchange amongst many members. There are some respondents quoted in the submission that are against it however. The submission is balanced. The main point of concern is the possibility of what would be, essentially, a contained ‘safe injecting facility’ within the health centre. Some members pointed out that the health centre staff and space are already strained.

One respondent wrote: “I support a NSP. There is an NSP going on right now, unregulated, illegal and unhealthy-dirty. Infection control is a key concern. A successful exchange or supervised injecting program relies on some level of trust from clients; best practice shouldn’t be governed by lowest common denominator.”

The conclusion of the ANF’s submission is as follows:

“The ACT ANF, having considered the PHAA report and canvassed the opinions of nurses currently employed at the AMC, is unable at this time to support any of the recommendations within the PHAA report. The ACT ANF and its members would be very interested in considering alternative needle and syringe exchange programs on a one for one basis, provided that the anonymity of the detainess could be assured. In the meantime, the ACT ANF recommends that additional resources be allocated to health promotion, and the detection of contraband within the prison.”

Dr Patrick Griffiths
Communications and Research Liaison

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