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Tough on Drugs diversion programme an enlightened approach.

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Media Release

The Hon Dr Michael Wooldridge

Minister for Health and Aged Care


18 Nov. 1999






Federal Health Minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge, today labelled the new Tough on Drugs diversion programme a positive step forward in providing treatment for people caught for possession or use of small quantities of illicit drugs.


“It is clinically proven that if you can reach a drug user before the addiction becomes full-blown that you have a better chance of stopping the drug use,” Dr Wooldridge said


“Diverting people caught with a small amount of illicit drugs also gives people an incentive to address their drug use problem, in many cases before incurring a criminal record,” Dr Wooldridge said “The focus is clearly on providing opportunities for early education or treatment.


“Studies from diversion pilot programs in Victoria have also shown that it is very positive for police morale to be able to send first time offenders into an appropriate treatment or educational course —rather than straight to the courts.


“Offenders diverted under this initiative will have access to appropriate drug education or a range of clinically acceptable drug treatment services such as counselling, withdrawal, and, where necessary, residential rehabilitation and pharmocotherapies.


“Wherever possible, family involvement will be encouraged and education and treatment services will be culturally, linguistically and gender sensitive.


“The diversion programme will be contingent upon a strong working relationship between the criminal justice and health sectors. Workforce training of frontline police and health workers will be critical in supporting the effective implementation of the diversion scheme, as will the need to promote community understanding and support for the approach.”


Dr Wooldridge said the Tough on Drugs National Illicit Drug Strategy offered a three pronged approach to Australia’s drug problem - additional funds for law enforcement agencies, education of young people and the wider community about drugs and establishment of a national drug treatment network across Australia.


“I am delighted to be associated with the demand reduction initiatives of the Strategy with funding of more than $55m already granted to a range of non-government and community partnership organisations for the development of innovative ways of treating drug users and the harm caused to the community by drugs.


“This diversion programme is an important phase in the fight to reduce drug abuse,” Dr Wooldridge said.



Media contact:

Serena Williams, Dr Wooldridge’s Office 0411 261 627 or 03 9822 1388

Kay McNiece, Dept. Health and Aged Care 0412 132 585



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