We purchased our home at auction in 2014, it was a beautiful sunny day and the street was brimming with bidders, busy bodies and neighbours; it was quite the competition and we won. I was ecstatic, my first home, we paid a little more than we had hoped, but to me, it was perfect. I had some idea about the drug use on Vic St, but having spent 7 years in very urban London, I didn’t think it would faze me too much.
A few days later, I excitedly drove my sister and 2-year-old nephew over to have a look and as I opened the car door, I spotted two uncapped syringes in the gutter. My barefoot nephew was quickly lifted into arms.
That weekend the old owners invited us over for a cuppa and a chat, “A few years back everyone got together and put removable tap heads out the front to discourage the drug users”. We hadn’t even completed on the sale and the enormity of the problem was already very obvious.
Roll forward 11 months and we welcomed a baby boy into the world.
The first time we had to tell someone to get out of the front yard, my baby was 3 weeks old and sleeping in the front room. He was polite enough.
It was only a month ago that, baby was ‘driving’ while I packed the car. As I opened up the garage door, I was confronted to find someone injecting in the fire door nook opposite - he was so close that I could see the blood in the syringe.
The first time my husband got up on the roof to clear out the gutters there was a couple injecting in their car parked directly out the front. They had their hit and drove straight off. We didn’t think about it too much, until a few months back when we were walking down Park Street and a car slammed into the back of the vehicle parked beside us, pushing it forward a car length. Was this just another junkie, whose hit was stronger than usual and he’d blanked out behind the wheel?
Two years on William St and the things I have seen don’t make for polite conversation. If it were just me I could almost pretend that it was all okay. But it isn’t just me. I have a child, an all-seeing, totally innocent baby boy – too soon he will start seeing these things and the questions will start. What do I say when the questions start?
Mummy, what’s this?
Mummy, what is that man doing?
Mummy, why does that lady look so sad?
Mummy, why is that man hitting all the street signs with a stick?
Mummy, why is there a strange person in our front yard?
Mummy, why do I have to put shoes on?
Mummy, why can’t I play out the front?
Mummy, why is their an ambulance on the street?
Mummy, why did they smash that car window?
Mummy, why is that man sleeping?
Mummy, is that woman dead?
Tell me, what do I say?
Tell me, what do I do?
Tell me, what do I do?
I cross the road when I can, turn the other way, walk faster or simply stop. But when there is a man sitting crossed legged on the footpath, out the front of your house, injecting themselves at 11am - there is really nothing you can do to avoid it.
Do I just give up and move? Pass the problem onto the next couple, just like us, newly married about to start a family?
We can’t keep on passing this problem on. It’s been 20 years. I don’t want to pass this problem on; I want to work for a solution. This is why I support a Medically Supervised Injecting Centre.