A ground-breaking pilot program to break the cycle of alcohol-related crimes, featuring Windana as a key delivery partner, has been recognised in the VicHealth Awards. Working with the Victoria Police, a range of community and health services as well as the justice system, Windana wanted to find new ways to help people repeatedly committing drunk in a public place or drunk and disorderly offences to move away from the criminal justice system (and associated warrants, fines and debts) into alcohol and other drug treatment. Windana CEO Anne-Maree Kaser (pictured far right) and members of the partner organisations attended a ceremony at Federation Square on December 1 that recognised the Alcohol Diversion Program.
Windana worked with Victoria Police, Magistrates Court Dandenong, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Justice and Regulation, Australian Community Support Organisation, Monash Health, SECADA, Windana and Afri-Auscare on the Alcohol Diversion Program to address the underlying causes of alcohol-related crimes and divert offenders into treatment and support. Participants in the program who engaged in and completed alcohol and recovery treatment had the opportunity to return to Court and have the Magistrate consider reducing or waiving accumulated fines that, in some cases, amounted to more than $100,000.
For Windana CEO Anne-Maree Kaser, the highest levels of collaboration were critical to the success of the pilot program. “When we can work together with the courts and the police in this way, people can change their ways and recover,” she says. “It’s about giving people the right support and treatment. It is about focusing on the drivers of their alcohol misuse and helping rebuild lives – reconnecting with family, friends, work colleagues and the community.”
Over a 12-month pilot that began in 2015, a total of 18 people were referred to the program and offered an opportunity to receive targeted treatment. The incentive for participants into the program was the opportunity to have their debts associated with the criminal offences waived. A total of five participants have graduated from the program and been rewarded with full or partial criminal debt waivers.
The Southern Metropolitan Alcohol Diversion Program results included:
- 50% reduction in substance abuse by participants
- Approximately 30% reduction in arrests for ‘drunk’ offences pre-pilot versus post-pilot
- Improved relationships between participants and authorities
- Positive participant feedback and satisfaction with being in the program
- Local resident satisfaction with reduced or absent alcohol drinking and associated behaviours