Alcohol-crime diversion pilot program expands to Bathurst
Minister for Health and Ageing Tony Abbott, and the NSW Special Minister of State, John Della Bosca, have announced the expansion of the Rural Alcohol Diversion Pilot Program to Bathurst Local Court.
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The Hon Tony Abbott MHR6 May 2005
Minister for Health and Ageing
The Hon John Della Bosca MLC
New South Wales
Special Minister of State
The Commonwealth Government Minister for Health and Ageing, Tony Abbott, and the NSW Special Minister of State, John Della Bosca, announced today the expansion of the Rural Alcohol Diversion Pilot Program to Bathurst Local Court.
The program was a key recommendation of the NSW Summit on Alcohol Abuse and offers the option of alcohol treatment to adult defendants who come before the courts and are eligible for bail.
"The program is one of the early intervention options being examined by the NSW Government to divert offenders into treatment for their alcohol abuse," Mr Della Bosca said.
"By providing treatment, we can tackle the source of their criminal behaviour and make improvements that help the individual, his or her family and the community as a whole."
The program commenced as a pilot program at Orange Local Court in December 2004.
In the short time it has operated, 20 referrals have been made to move defendants into treatment. Three participants have already successfully completed the three-month-long intensive program.
Launching the program in Bathurst today, Mr Abbott said comprehensive assessment processes would ensure offenders were directed to the necessary treatment and services to break the cycle of drug dependence and criminal activity.
"If we can stop people embarking on long term drug abuse, we can divert them from serious health problems, financial destitution, social dysfunction, a criminal record, and in some cases, acts of violence and property crime," Mr Abbott said.
Alcohol abuse is estimated by the NSW Government to cost the state around $7 million each day ($2.5 billion in a year) through lost labour and productivity, alcohol-related crime, road accidents and the impact on the health system of alcohol-related illness and injury.
The Rural Alcohol Diversion Pilot Program at Bathurst will rely on a comprehensive range of health and welfare services such as detoxification, treatment and rehabilitation offered by both government and non-government service providers.
These include emergency and residential detoxification services offered through Orange and Nepean Hospitals as well as other treatment and support from the Bathurst Drug and Alcohol and Community Health Centre, the Bathurst Family Support Service, Centacare, Warilda House, Chifley Cottage Pharmacotherapy Unit, Lyndon Therapeutic Community Rehabilitation Program and the Lyndon Withdrawal Unit at Orange. The Weigelli Centre at Woodstock will provide culturally-specific services to Indigenous program participants.
"The Rural Alcohol Diversion Pilot Program is being closely monitored and is subject to independent evaluation to determine whether it is meeting its objectives," Mr Della Bosca said.
The Illicit Drug Diversion Initiative (IDDI) Agreement is a Council of Australian Government (COAG) initiative funded $60.2 million by the Australian Government through the Tough on Drugs program and $20.1 million by the New South Wales Government. The Rural Alcohol Diversion Pilot in Orange and Bathurst is a program of the Illicit Drug Diversion Initiative and is funded $713,000 over four years by the Australian Government.
Media contacts: For more information call Mr Abbott's office on ph 02 6277 7220.
Minister Della Bosca: Andrew Plumley 0438 455 562
Website address for further information: www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/cpd/merit.nsf/pages/index
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