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Victoria To Open Dedicated Sobering Up Centre In Collingwood

The Andrews government plans to open Victoria’s first dedicated sobering up centre in Collingwood before the new policy on public drunkenness comes into effect on November 7.

The 20-bed facility is part of the state government’s commitment to tackle public drunkenness, shifting from treating it as a crime to a health issue.

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The location was chosen due to its convenience and proximity to the CBD, public transport and St Vincent’s Hospital. 

Minister Gabrielle Williams said outreach services would support people who are intoxicated in public and transport them to a safe place to rest and sober up if necessary. 

Ms Williams said a safe place for many would be with a family member, friend, or carer, for some it would be at the centre.

“For too long, public drunkenness laws have caused great pain to some of our community’s most vulnerable – these health-led reforms strike the right balance between supporting people who are intoxicated and community safety,” she said in a statement. 

“There is still a lot of work to do, but there is no doubt that these services will save lives.”

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The minister announced that cohealth, a not-for-profit organisation, will operate the general services stream of Victoria’s health-based approach to public drunkenness, which includes managing the sobering centre.

A dedicated phone line will also be used to file public intoxication services referrals.

Ms Williams said Ambulance Victoria and Victoria Police would continue to respond to public intoxication instances where emergency health concerns or community safety was at risk. 

The government aimed to decriminalise public drunkenness at the start of a 2019 coronial inquest into the death of Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day.

In December 2017, Ms Day was arrested for public drunkenness and tragically passed away after hitting her head on a wall in a concrete cell at Castlemaine Police Station.

A coroner found that her death was preventable.

Now, Queensland is the only state that hasn’t moved to decriminalise public intoxication.

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