Why do we not celebrate our victories?

ABC The Drum tonight discussed drug use around the world. One of the rare times that enlightened professionals marshal enough public support was when we began a needle exchange program, and a safe injecting environment.

The expert on tonight’s show said that the over-riding concern of the program was pragmatic: to keep people alive. She said that this program, or what is left of it, is world-renowned, and the Australian rate of HIV infection among drug users is the lowest in the world.

I remember the hysteria among the professional opinion makers in the media at the time the program was implemented. I was also living in Kings Cross, where the injection centre was to be located, the red light district.

Daily, I would walk through its streets to the rail station to travel to my railway job where the butchest guys would say to me: “I don’t know how you can live there; I would never have the courage to visit the suburb”. I didn’t perform a Jungian function in asking these guys what their pre-conceptions were. Instead, I told them that in the streets surrounding Kings Cross were 3 senior citizen villages; at any time during the day you could find very fragile people tottering to & from the supermarket, barely conscious, but also never attacked.

I myself was only attacked twice during my 20 year residence in KC; once, on the eve of the rugby league final a group of guys approached me outside my apartment building, one of them was aggressive in tone & before I could modify the interpersonal dynamics he’d punched me on the nose. I fled back into my 30’s concrete, art deco building, leaving a trail of blood up the stairs to my door, horrifying my lovely next door neighbour who commiserated with me. Another time, I was harassed on the main street by a guy while I was extracting money from the hole in the wall. The street ambiance that encouraged this anarchy was a spate of knife attacks that were happening locally; people were giving each other horribly suspicious looks as they scurried away from the train.

In the middle of the Cross was the police station, recently built partly underground; the adjacent car park was also underground & topped with a green park. This was where the local junkies congregated to shoot up. At the time I would practise my 7 cycle Tai Chi; the group became fascinated by my oriental ballet, they would gather round & applaud. As Nina Hagen sings in her hit Smack Jack, “junkies are so sentimental”.



About anton veenstra

tapestry weaver, fibre artist, gay/qr activist, multiculturalist
This entry was posted in Injecting room, Nina Hagen, Smack Jack, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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