Western NSW Local Health District has provided information about safe sharps disposal following a reported rise in the number of used syringes found underneath the LH Ford Bridge in Dubbo during a recent clean-up.
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On Clean Up Australia Day, March 5, a Dubbo RiverCare Group volunteer cleaning-up the banks of the Macquarie River said they found so many used syringes they were unable to dispose of them safely.
Both the WNSWLHD and Dubbo Council told the Daily Liberal they sometimes undertook cleanups of used syringes in Dubbo, and the Daily Liberal believes the area underneath the bridge has since been cleaned-up.
A spokesperson for the WNSWLHD said Needle and Syringe Programs (NSP) operate in the district, to reduce the spread of blood-borne viruses. These include hepatitis C and HIV within at-risk population groups, including people who inject drugs.
"Along with providing free, sterile equipment in a range of locations to reduce the sharing of injecting equipment, all authorised NSP outlets also provide safe disposal services," the spokesperson told the Daily Liberal.
"There are also large, yellow community sharps disposal bins located at high-risk locations."
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"This includes coordinated and regular monitoring of used injecting equipment disposal, and frequent clean-ups, particularly in known or high-risk locations," the spokesperson said.
Dubbo Council Director Community Culture and Places, Jane Bassingthwaighte, said: "Council has supported NSW Health, Orana Support Services and other agencies with clean-ups in the past and specific Council staff are trained in the correct procedures when dealing with needle clean up."
Any community member who encounters sharps should not attempt to dispose of them. They should contact the NSW Needle Clean-Up Hotline via 1800 633 353.
NSW Police and NSW Health declined to comment about the prevalence of drug-taking in the Dubbo region.
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