Ru­ral drug court fund­ing promised by Coun­try Party

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS -

Aus­tralian Coun­try Party can­di­date for Ovens Val­ley Ju­lian Fidge said the party’s in­ten­tion was to pro­vide fund­ing for a ru­ral drug court, based in north­east Vic­to­ria, to help treat drug and al­co­hol ad­dic­tion and the crime aris­ing from those ad­dic­tions.

Dr Fidge said such a court should not just ex­ist in Mel­bourne, but also in re­gional ar­eas.

‘‘There are al­ready drug courts op­er­at­ing in Dan­de­nong and Mel­bourne mag­is­trates’ courts,’’ he said.

‘‘The Chief Mag­is­trate of Vic­to­ria has in­di­cated that the court would like to ex­pand to a ru­ral re­gion and that this is de­pen­dent on fur­ther fund­ing.

‘‘The Aus­tralian Coun­try Party would pro­vide this fund­ing to start a drug court for north-east Vic­to­ria, in or­der to pro­vide the spe­cial­ist ju­di­cial ap­proach that has been proven to be so suc­cess­ful in help­ing of­fend­ers over­come their ad­dic­tion prob­lems.

‘‘I have been work­ing in drug and al­co­hol re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion for 30 years and I know well from my work with Odyssey House near Be­nalla, and lo­cal fam­i­lies, the harms that al­co­hol and drug ad­dic­tion cause to com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies in north-east Vic­to­ria.

‘‘I have spo­ken with most of the lo­cal so­lic­i­tors and they are all sup­port­ive of a lo­cal drug court. We have a lo­cal Depart­ment of Jus­tice of­fice and ex­pe­ri­enced Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions of­fi­cers.

‘‘This area has a sig­nif­i­cant drug prob­lem, and would ben­e­fit greatly from a spe­cial­ist drug court to man­age th­ese com­plex of­fend­ers ef­fec­tively, at min­i­mal cost to Vic­to­ria.’’

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