As part of the next stage of the Andrews Labor Government’s Ice Action Plan, more Victorians will have support to tackle the drug ice.
The centrepiece of the package is a $32 million new Drug Court to be based at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, extra residential rehabilitation beds, and improved services for Aboriginal Victorians.
The court will complement the existing Drug Court at Dandenong, and provide capacity for an additional 170 drug offenders to receive targeted support to address their drug use. The funding includes increased support for agencies such as Victoria Police, the health department, and clinical and legal service providers.
In the past, mainstream courts have attempted to address these issues through imprisonment, or through suspended sentences or community‐based orders, with rehabilitation or treatment conditions attached. This ad hoc approach has had limited success.
Drug courts are an effective solution. They provide an intensive therapeutic sentencing option for people who have difficult drug or alcohol dependencies and who commit serious drug-related criminal offences. These offenders often have associated mental health and other complex needs.
The $57.6 million investment in stage two of the Ice Action Plan includes:
- $5.5 million for further training and support to better equip frontline workers
- $6 million to develop an 18-20 bed mental health facility in the Grampians region servicing the Ballarat community
- $10 million to improve selected mental health, alcohol and other drug facilities to achieve greater therapeutic and safer environments for patients
- $32 million expansion of the Drug Court of Victoria
- $4 million over four years for a pilot project to respond to Ice in Aboriginal Communities.
This announcement builds on the Labor Government’s $45.5 million Ice Action Plan launched last year which addresses urgent issues to support families, provide treatment for users, protect frontline workers, close down drug manufacturers and make our community safer.
Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Martin Pakula
“The status quo isn’t working. The lack of effective sentencing options for serious drug-related offences has resulted in increased imprisonment rates, increased re-offending and a failure to address the underlying causes of addiction.”
“The Drug Court model is a sound and effective solution that gives offenders a better opportunity to turn their lives around.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley
“Upgrading and building facilities will give users the treatment they need and give families the support they deserve – especially in regional Victoria where people are suffering disproportionately from the effects of this vicious drug.”
“This is an important next step for our Ice Action Plan and we will work with health service providers, police and the community to get it right.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy
“Face-to-face training will make sure our paramedics, doctors, nurses, police, child protection and social workers are getting the skills and support they need to manage and treat ice affected people safely.”
“If frontline workers are safer at work, they can do their job and save more lives.”