NFDS 2018: The Shooting Gallery

amclellan, 25th September 2018

When it comes to drugs, we are often handed the line that it's best to be 'tough'. But there’s at least one community taking another approach.

Aoife Cooke takes us to what’s formally known as a “medically supervised injecting centre", but is known to some as The Shooting Gallery.

Produced by Aoife Cooke of 3CR, Melbourne.
Supervising production by Georgia Moodie.

Broadcasting this on your station? Email CRN on this address for audio and cue sheets.

This is a story about the opening of Australia’s second medically supervised injecting centre.

It explores changes the centre brings for the wider community of Richmond, Melbourne, where it’s located. The centre was expected to prevent overdose, death and injury, and with a safe place to use drugs, much of the on-street drug use was expected to move indoors. 

While I had endorsement from the new centre management and their expressed support for my radio project, it was touch and go whether I’d be able to see inside the space and wrangle the busy staff for recordings and interviewing.

I wanted of course to speak to people who are clients of the new centre.

National Features and Documentary Series

IMAGE: For decades, these have been familiar images for the Richmond community. 

I wandered the neighbourhood to invite people to join me for a chat, but it took two days to get the audio I wanted. .

On my first attempt, commercial TV had set up camp in front of the station uninvited. Clients of the new centre were upset  by this invasive media attention.

Cameras set on huge tripods filming without consent, surrounded by presenters with gleaming suits and perfectly coiffed hair.

Centre users slipped away from the open spaces, and not wanting to add to anyone’s distress, I packed up and went home for the day.

National Features and Documentary Series

IMAGE: Judy is the one of the Richmond residents Aoife spoke with.

Where were the dissenting voices opposed to the centre? They were already in the commercial media.

Some people I spoke to about my project expected me to show two equal sides to every story. Why was I choosing not to include the local residents with understandable concerns about the centre’s proximity to a primary school, those traders who felt more CCTV would solve the problems and, the Liberal politicians who claim the centre endorses encourages illicit drug use? So, I explained that community radio has the capacity to front the quieter voices and the less sensationalist ideas. But I took care to show how the anecdotes and perspectives of the participants do address a lot of these concerns.

New information has been released since this show was produced - figures for the first two months of the injecting centre boast 8,000 visits, the management of 140 overdoses, as well as a high uptake of support services by people who inject drugs.

- Aoife Cooke

Hatice at 3CR Melbourne

IMAGE: Hatice has lived in the Richmond area for decades and understands the issues very well.

More information
  • To all the participants and Royal Abbott for their interviews
  • Jessie Richardson and Dr Nico Clarke of North Richmond Community Health, Greg Denham, Royal Abbott 
  • My mentor Georgia Moodie 
  • Everyone at 3CR Community Radio
  • Giordana Caputo at the Community Media Training Organisation
  • Andrew McLellan at the Community Radio Network. 

This piece was made for the CBAA's National Features & Documentary Series 2018, a showcase of work by new and emerging Australian community radio producers, with training and mentoring provided by the Community and Media Training Organisation. The opinions expressed in National Features & Documentary Series content are those of the individual producers or their interviewees, and not necessarily shared by the CBAA or CMTO.

Produced with the assistance of the Department of Communications and the Arts via the Community Broadcasting Foundation.

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