PUTTING young south-west Victorian Aboriginal ice users into community residential rehabilitation programs instead of sending them to jail could save taxpayers nearly $100,000 per offender, according to a submission by the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.
VALS has lodged the submission with the state government’s parliamentary inquiry into crystal methamphetamine (ice), which is due to convene in Warrnambool on March 3.
“The costs of treatment in community residential rehabilitation services are substantially cheaper than prison,” the VALS report said. “Diversion would lead to substantial savings per offender of $96,446. Community residential treatment is also associated with better outcomes compared with prison — lower recidivism rates and better health outcomes, and thus savings in health system costs. The savings associated with these additional benefits of community residential treatment are approximately $15,012 per offender.”
VALS said the ice epidemic is particularly severe in several Victorian regional centres including Heywood.
Magistrate Jonathan Klestadt, who has just completed a term presiding in Portland Magistrates’ Court, said recently that ice use, especially among indigenous people, was having a devastating effect on young lives locally. He noted that ice was causing enormous damage to the fabric of the community in general.
In his role as coroner, Mr Klestadt also saw the drug’s vile effects.
Read more in Wednesday’s Portland Observer.