Terrence Robinson with a syringe he found near the Baby Health Clinic in Market Square.
Terrence Robinson with a syringe he found near the Baby Health Clinic in Market Square.

Syringe found near baby clinic

By JULIA ILES

EVERY parent's nightmare is to discover a syringe near where their child is playing.

But for Terrence Robinson on Monday it was a reality, as he spotted two-year-old Eunice only a short distance from one.

The syringe was found outside of the Baby Health Clinic in the CWA Rooms adjoining Grafton's Market Square.

"It was shocking to find, sometimes I, or the girls, don't wear shoes when we come into Grafton and it always seemed perfectly safe, but now I'll think twice about it," he said.

Mr Robinson lives with his wife and two children Eunice, 2, and Mikahila, 3, 85 kilometres away at Malabugilmah

"I've been here (Grafton) so many times and was raised in the area, but it's a sign of the times, things are changing," he said.

"My gosh I've travelled to big cities and you expect this sort of thing in Sydney or Brisbane, but I never thought Grafton would have problems with discarded syringes."

He said Market Square was a common place for his family and other members of the Malabugilmah community to congregate.

Mr Robinson is on the Aboriginal Advisory Council and plans to raise the need for needle collection containers at the Market Square public toilets at the next Clarence Valley Council meeting.

On investigation, all that was in place in the toilets were small signs with the number of a service which would come and collect needles.

Northern Region Director of Public Health, Paul Corben, who represents the Baby Health Clinic, said there was no heightened risk in the area.

And that due care should always be taken in parks. That care included wearing shoes. He suggested that the syringe was not necessarily the result of illegal drug use.

"It could have been very innocent, babies get medication such as panadol that way and people with medical conditions do also, it's not as much of an issue as the needle wasn't with it," he said.

"The risk of contracting blood-born viruses from a discarded sharp is extremely low, there are no cases of HIV being contracted this way and the only recorded case was when a man in Spain caught Hepatitis C."

Clarence Valley Council's open spaces co-ordinator George Nowak said he wasn't aware that the Market Square public toilets did not have collection containers.

He believes a brake down in the supply chain has contributed to their absence.

"Council workers do find a lot of needles in public toilets. It is not uncommon, but it isn't concentrated around Market Square, but is spread out around Grafton," he said.

Mr Nowak said he would look into having the boxes replaced in the toilets and that people who found syringes should report them to council, which has a service to pick them up.

The number for needle collections is 1800 633 353.

Last year the Examiner published a number of stories about needles being found near the Grafton Infants School.

The Examiner checked with some residents yesterday who advised that the problem seemed to have been remedied.



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