Friday, March 11, 2011

In Which We Are Put In Our Place

A missive arrives from Dr Ingrid van Beek who was the first Director of Sydney's Medically Supervised Injecting Centre which opened in 2001 and who wrote a book- In the Eye of the Needle: Diary of a Medically Supervised Injecting Centre  about her 5 year efforts to get the centre off the ground while facing an extraordinary campaign of opposition.

tall tales-Malcolm Duncan
Sadly the late Malcolm Duncan, barrister of note and colourful Kings Cross character did not attend the launch of her book as we reported.

Well we think he should have been invited but that's beside the point.

 One of Malcolm's endearing traits was the art of embellishment (he was a barrister) and tales often took on a life of their own. He collared the Shuttle one afternoon on Darlinghurst Road and invited us for a cleansing ale in a nearby pub and thus began one of those afternoons in which Malcolm described the book launch proceedings as they unfolded. Perhaps the story of the event was how Malcolm would have liked it to have been.

Mind you he did warn us that he and well known local photographer had just come by a bottle of excellent vintage Moet and polished it off.

When the highly successfully injecting centre opened the uproar was deafening. Local businesses proclaimed there would be doom and gloom and all hell would break loose. One even installed a camera to monitor those who would walk through the centre's doors perhaps in the hopes of embarrassing them. Fortunately the camera was soon removed.

Certainly the medical profession, most of the more sensible local politicians and the police we speak to on the beat, believe the centre has been an unqualified success in providing a clean centre for addicts to inject as well as monitoring the ever present fear of an accidental overdose.

 As to the thousands of visitors to Kings Cross who pass by it every day, it's doubtful they would even know where or what the anonymous looking building was or care what went on behind it's doors.

ABC broadcaster Richard Fidler interviewed Dr van Beek for his excellent series Conversations With Richard Fidler and it's well worth a listen. You can listen to the interview here or download a podcast.

To read a review of In the Eye of the Needle: Diary of a Medically Supervised Injecting Centre by a medical journalist go here.

To buy a copy of the book go to
For more information on the medically supervised injecting centre go to their website here.