MP repeats calls for Geelong Drug Court
TORQUAY-BASED State MP Stuart Grimley has renewed calls for a dedicated drug court for Geelong, which he argues would cut down on drug-fuelled crime in the region.
The Western Victoria MP has asked for a $600,000 state government contribution to fund a business case for a Geelong Drug Court in a submission for the 2022-23 State Budget.
A $35 million state investment in 2020 has opened drug courts at Ballarat and Shepparton, but Geelong is yet to receive a funding commitment for a specialist facility.
Drug courts are specialist arms of the Victorian legal system aimed at overseeing people on Drug and Alcohol Treatment Orders, including through mandatory counselling, court review hearings, drug testing and clinical advisor appointments.
Independent and internal evaluations of Victoria’s drug court system have found that it reduces re-offending rates by about one-third, and improved rehabilitation rates for participants that entered its programs.
Crime Statistics Agency data showed Greater Geelong had 1020 drug offences recorded in 2021, down from a record-high of 1548 in 2020.
Geelong also has a higher offence rate per population than Ballarat, which had its new drug court unveiled last month.
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party MP Mr Grimley said an expansion of the program to Geelong would deliver better outcomes for offenders and ease strain on the city’s courts.
“As a police officer in Geelong I was able to see the revolving door at the courts. You would often see the same offenders going in and out of court on similar charges time and time again. This could be reduced by funding a drug court,” he said.
“The question remains, if we know that drug courts work, why isn’t the government looking at making more of them? I look forward to working with the government to see this business plan come to fruition.”
Mr Grimley said a lack of dedicated facilities in Geelong and other areas of Victoria created a sentiment of “postcode justice”, where access to services created different outcomes for similar offending depending on location.
The next state budget is due for release on May 3.