DISPOSING of more than 10 syringes a week is just a part of the job for one local gardener.
Noble Park resident of three years Eric Simmons has become immune to what most people find startling.
“I find them in piles on front lawns, chucked over fences, on footpaths, under bushes and in shopping centre car parks and gutters,” Mr Simmons said.
Covering suburbs from Frankston to Ferntree Gully, Mr Simmons said syringes were everywhere.
“I started noticing them in the last five years, but the past 12 to 18 months they’ve really increased to the point where I’m seeing them more than I see rubbish on the ground, you don’t need to go out searching for them they’re right in front of you,” he said.
After three years in the business, Mr Simmons said he didn’t envisage the gravity of the problem.
“It wasn’t something I thought I’d have to do when I signed up, I didn’t think I’d have to deal with syringes at this high rate,” he said.
Mr Simmons said he found around the same number of capped and uncapped syringes and added that didn’t make his job any easier.
“It’s not a nice feeling having to pick them up, even when I know it’s capped and I have gloves, it’s still not a good feeling to touch- the day I started I would very rarely see them, probably once every four months, now it’s daily,” he explained.
Having worked in Melbourne’s inner city suburb of Prahran, Mr Simmons said Dandenong’s syringe problem was at the same level as Prahran’s.
“I find them when I’m not working as well; 12 months ago there was a few in the gutter at Coles in Noble Park- they are right across Dandenong but Noble Park is the worst,” he said.
A necessity much the same as his lawn mower, his very own sharps container is stored in his truck and disposed of every six to eight weeks.
He said the problem in Lynbrook was slowly growing.
“I was in Lynbrook and pulled up to mow a client’s lawn, and within three metres on the side of the road I found a syringe,” he said.
Concerned for children’s safety, Mr Simmons said in some cases users would destroy the plastic sharps bins to get the used ones out.
He said the way out was to see more steel bins installed around town.
“I very rarely see the steel bins- even if the council bolted them onto power poles, but it’s hard to know if they’d use them, but we won’t know if we don’t do anything- you can’t stop them doing it, but can provide places for them to be safely disposed of.
“I know they go on about the ice epidemic but the syringe problem is still here,” he said.
According to Mr Simmons, Dandenong and Springvale are syringe hotspots with businesses copping the brunt just as much as residential homes and estates.
“They’ll go in to a secluded area and shoot up and throw them over the fence. I have been servicing a Dandenong business for 12 months which has syringes thrown over their fence on a weekly basis, which is a worry for customers walking through the outdoor stock,” he said.
Mr Simmons believes a mix of education in schools and steel bins are the only way to combat the growing problem.
“I am concerned Lynbrook is going to end up like Dandenong and Frankston and education is the key,” he said.
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