The MSIC story

Our story

The history of Australia’s first medically supervised injecting centre (MSIC)

1990s Increasing number of businesses in Kings Cross in Sydney illegally renting rooms for purpose of injecting illicit drugs
1997 Royal Commission in the NSW Police Service recommends a supervised injecting centre
1998 Report from Joint Select Parliamentary Committee into Safe Injecting Rooms votes against the establishment of a supervised injecting centre
1997/1998 Random telephone surveys of more than 300 Kings Cross residents show majority support for the establishment of a supervised injecting centre
1999 Kings Cross has the highest concentration of people dying from drug overdose in Australia
May 1999 NSW Drug Summit held, with a recommendation that a medically supervised injecting centre be trialled in NSW. It was later proposed that this trial be undertaken in Kings Cross. Legislation was later passed which meant it could be established for a period of 18 months
Sisters of Charity health service (originally the potential operators of the supervised injecting centre) are forced to withdraw after advice from Vatican
December 1999 NSW Government invites Uniting Church in Australia to apply for licence to operate supervised injecting centre
June 2000 Uniting Church lodges application for licence to operate MSIC at 66 Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross, after months of community consultation
6 May 2001 MSIC opens. First supervised injecting centre in English speaking world. It remains the only service of its kind in the southern hemisphere
June 2002 NSW Parliament votes to extend trial of MSIC
2003 First independent evaluation of MSIC published by National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre shows positive results
October 2003 NSW Parliament votes again to extend trial of MSIC
2006 NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research publishes report showing no adverse impact on crime in Kings Cross from MSIC operating
2006/2007 Second set of independent evaluation reports published by National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research shows positive results
June 2007 NSW Parliament votes again to extend trial of MSIC
2008 Independent economic analysis of MSIC shows it has clear benefits
2008/09/10 Further reports from NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research show no adverse outcomes on crime from MSIC operating
2010 Third independent evaluation report published by KPMG shows positive results
27 Oct 2010 NSW Parliament votes to overturn trial status of MSIC
1 Nov 2010 Legislation passed. Trial status officially over, allowing MSIC to run on an ongoing basis
May 2011 MSIC marks ten years of successful operation with NSW Government providing bipartisan support
May 2016 MSIC marks fifteen years of successful operation, with increasing numbers of advocates nationally

Find out more about the history of Uniting MSIC.

A global view

The first ‘official’ supervised injecting facility began in Switzerland in 1986. Now there are nearly 100 supervised injecting facilities operating around the world, in places such as:

  • Germany
  • Spain
  • The Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Luxembourg
  • Switzerland
  • Denmark
  • Canada
  • Sydney, Australia.

The Uniting Sydney MSIC is the only supervised injecting facility in Australia.

All supervised injecting facilities aim to improve public health and public amenity by reducing drug use in public places. They are often established in areas where there is a high concentration of people injecting drugs in full view of others, on the street. The centres vary depending on what is happening in the local area – some may offer facilities for inhalation or intranasal drug use, whereas others are only for drug use via injections. The skills and qualifications of staff may vary too, but supervised injecting facilities all have common goals:

  • To improve health and wellbeing
  • To reduce the number of deaths from overdose
  • To reduce public drug use.

If you would like more information about supervised injecting facilities in general, visit the website of the International Network of Drug Consumption Rooms or the website of the Global Platform for Drug Consumption Rooms. For more information about the Canadian services, with all resources in English, visit the Vancouver Coastal Health Supervised Injection Site website and the website of the Dr Peter AIDS Foundation.

Why Kings Cross was chosen as the location

Kings Cross was chosen as the location for the Uniting MSIC because it had the highest frequency of drug overdose deaths in the state, and indeed within Australia. It was also chosen because the local community was very supportive of trialling the initiative in their area.

Find our more about why Kings Cross was chosen as a location.

A Christian approach

The Uniting MSIC was established in Kings Cross by the Uniting Church and NSW Government in 2001, in the belief that everyone has the inherent right to dignity and respect.

It was also established in the belief that it will reduce deaths from overdose and save lives created in God’s image. The centre continues to save countless lives and has helped many onto the path of recovery and rehabilitation.

Read more about the centre’s history and its theological underpinning.

Get in touch

If you would like to find out more about Uniting MSIC, call us on +61 (0) 2 9360 1191 or email rglasgow@uniting.org.