Thousands more clean needles distributed to Mandurah methamphetamine addicts this year

Photo: Shutterstock.
Photo: Shutterstock.

A Mandurah addiction support service says the community is significantly safer after more clean needles were distributed to methamphetamine addicts this year than last year.

Mandurah Palmerston spokesman Bram Dickens said 173,663 clean needles were given out to drug users between January and June this year, compared to the 143,393 needles distributed during the same period in 2018.

"The service exchanges significant numbers of new for used needles, so much so, that the first time I saw the figures, I thought it was an error," he said.

"From January to June this year, we distributed about 29,000 needles a month to the Peel region - we consider the service to be a great success."

Mr Dickens said the increase was contributed to the organisation's move to the Peel Health Hub in October 2018.

The organisation joined eight health providers to trial an Australian-first service model, offering holistic assistance to clients.

Mr Dickens said the community benefited "significantly" from the Palmerston needle exchange service.

"That number of needles is going to be used regardless," he said.

"We are providing clean, hygienic needles, rather than any alternative there might be and that's a lot of needles that aren't being discarded in local community bins and parks.

"We are also helping people stay free of blood-borne viruses, including hepatitis and HIV, which are a huge burden to the individual and community."

He said there was a 95 per cent return rate.

Mr Dickens said the exchange service had been operating for five years, providing equipment supplied by the Health Department.

"It is a misunderstood and contentious area but the overarching philosophy is sound," he said of the exchange service.

The needle and syringe exchange is located at the Peel Health Hub on 91 Allnutt Street in Mandurah.

The service is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 12pm and 1pm to 3pm.

For more information on drug and alcohol services visit www.mhc.wa.gov.au.