Minister for Corrections and Crime Prevention Andrew McIntosh today launched the Australian Community Support Organisation's (ACSO) Strategic Plan 2011 – 2014, which details ACSO's vision and priorities for delivery of its services to help tackle and prevent crime in Victoria.
During a visit to the former HM Prison Pentridge, Mr McIntosh said ACSO had been helping rehabilitate prisoners through the provision of post-release support services for nearly 30 years.
"ACSO has a proud history of improving community safety through its work assisting former prisoners to re-integrate into society upon release, and build positive lives for themselves," Mr McIntosh said.
"Since its inception, ACSO has grown from a drop-in support centre for ex-prisoners to providing more comprehensive services, including providing links to specialist health services, employment assistance and emergency accommodation for those leaving the prison system and those at risk of re-offending.
"The Coalition Government is committed to reducing and preventing crime in Victoria, and applauds the work of grass-roots organisations such as ACSO with its long and impressive history of evidence-based practice and research in this area."
Mr McIntosh said ACSO's Community Offenders Advice and Treatment Service (COATS) forms one of the key components of the Coalition Government's response to drug and alcohol issues.
"Corrections Victoria, the Department of Health and ACSO work together to help ensure treatment for offenders with alcohol and other drug related issues who are on Community Corrections Orders," Mr McIntosh said.
"Offenders are referred to COATS which undertakes a comprehensive screening process, including drugs, alcohol and mental health assessments, before linking the offender to suitable support and treatment programs provided by the Department of Health. This ensures offenders receive tailored treatment to help break the cycle of crime and give them the best possible chance to avoid reoffending."
ACSO's Strategic Plan outlines its strategic priorities for tackling rising drug and alcohol related violence, assaults and crime occurring in the city and outer suburbs, as well as providing a stronger response to emerging issues in rural and regional hotspots, including Bendigo, Ballarat and the LaTrobe Valley.
ACSO CEO Karenza Louis-Smith said the organisation was committed to assisting the Victorian Government drive down crime by tackling the factors that contribute to offending behaviour.
"The Coalition Government has a strong law and order platform, and ACSO is happy to launch its strategy which supports the government's vision using our unique expertise in making our community safer," Ms Louis-Smith said.
Mr McIntosh was joined at the launch by retiring ACSO patron and former Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia, The Hon. Alastair Nicholson, and retired Pentridge Prison officers. Mr McIntosh presented a special award of appreciation to Mr Nicholson.