Rural drug court funding promised by Country Party
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.’’