Heroin addiction and its tragic consequences are a key feature of the inner city. Residents often find people overdosed in dangerous locations, as a result of them having to hide their addiction from the authorities. Relentless emergency sirens evoke a war-zone scenario, while parents never know what drug-related human tragedies they or their children will encounter on the streets.
Judy Ryan OAM, community activist, led the campaign for Melbourne’s first safe injecting-room, in North Richmond. Her account is related in her recent book, You Talk, We Die.
After years of country living, this deadly scene was the inner-city reality that Judy unwittingly relocated to. Though aware of the existence of heroin usage, the extent of the problem in her new neighbourhood was truly shocking to her.
She channelled her country roots and tried to imagine how this health crisis would be treated in a country town. Would local people become blasé about finding bodies in gardens? Would government officials avert their gaze? Would local police arrest people who were clearly unwell?
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