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Byron Shire
May 20, 2024

Children tested after playing with ‘junkie needles’

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The Echo loves your letters and is proud to provide a community forum on the issues that matter most to our readers and the people of the NSW north coast. So don’t be a passive reader, send us your epistles.

Eve Jeffery

In a perfect world, all public toilets would have syringe disposal boxes.

Then again, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t need them.

Horrifically, it is not a perfect world for a trio of youngsters who found a bunch of used syringes in a public toilet in Mullumbimby last week. They and their parents now have to wait an agonising six months to see if they have been infected through needle punctures acquired while playing with them.

One of the boys’ mothers contacted The Echo in the hope of at least warning other parents about the dangers in the hope they will educate their children and avoid the trauma that she is going through.

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the boys, aged 11 and 12 years, were playing in the toilet behind the IGA when they found the syringes above the sink. They had no clue as to the potentially deadly nature of the needles and began to play with them – her son was definitely stuck by a needle and the other boys are not sure.

Traumatised

During the visit to the hospital, all three lads were made aware of the possibilities and all left severely traumatised.

The mother says now it is a six-month wait and hope that the next batch of tests come back negative.

She says she has spoken to police who have told her that the particular toilet the boys were in was a well-known haunt of needle users.

‘They were very supportive and I had three different officers ring me’, she said. ‘They told me they cannot understand why Council has not provided disposal units in the facility.’ She says the police told her she should go to Council and demand action. ‘When I went to Council to make them aware of the situation and ask why there were not sharps boxes installed, they were quite dismissive. They said that if I felt strongly about the issue I should lobby councillors.’

Council replies

Director of Council’s infrastructure services, Phil Holloway, said, ‘To date, there has not been a problem with needles at the [Station St Mullumbimby] carpark toilets. The toilet block is cleaned twice daily and is locked at 5pm each day. Following the reported incident, the toilet block will be assessed to consider a sharps bin being placed in the building.’

Mr Holloway urged the community to immediately report to Council if needles are found lying on the toilet ground. ‘Our staff are trained in the correct way to dispose of needles and the needles should not be touched by anyone from the public,’ he said.

The woman says she just wants parents to be aware of the dangers and educate their children. ‘My advice is to have that conversation with your children. Needles are a very real and deadly issue. If there was a box in there, three families would not be in the middle of an horrific nightmare now.’


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