A LANDMARK report has revealed $111,000 can be saved per year per offender by diverting non-violent indigenous offenders into treatment instead of prison.
The accounting firm Deloitte Access Economics produced the report for the National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee of the Australian National Council on Drugs.
The report also claimed an overall saving of $92,000 per indigenous offender from better health and quality of life outcomes.
CEO of Oolong House in Nowra Ivern Ardler welcomed the report.
“Hopefully the government takes this report seriously and sees the need to continue residential services such as ours,” he said.
“I hope they continue to review and provide financial support for these services to continue to remain sustainable.
“There are growing demands on services and it’s not just as a result of this report.
“There is a need for clients seeking residential care.
“We provide residential treatment for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men who wish to regain their lives and manage their problems linked to alcohol and other drugs.
“There are only a couple of detox centres left.
“Hospitals are now having to detox people and they need residential care to totally come off their addiction.
“For a long time services like ours have been under-funded.
“Governments have also been increasing the capacity of centres over time and it takes additional staff to run these extra services.
“However there is no additional funding to cover those needed staff increases.
“Oolong would gratefully accept any additional funding, especially to employ a cook. At the moment that position is not funded and it comes out of clients’ costs and that’s not fair.”
Oolong House has 24 beds, which are full all the time.
The 15 staff, which includes three administration personnel, runs a number of programs for its clients, including one on one counselling sessions, group counselling sessions and provides activities for its clients six days a week.
“Basically we run seven days a week, 24 hours a day, even Christmas Day,” Mr Ardler said.
He said the centre also offered a second service, funded by the Commonwealth through Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FAHCSIA) to provide a residential respite service separate to the drug and alcohol services, for carers and people with a mental health condition.
“These two services operating together will ensure Oolong’s stability.
“We are hoping with that change and moving more in a mental health direction, and having staff trained in that field we will be in a better position to provide more services to clients in the community and not just residential rehabilitation.
“Locally, Waminda, through the South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation, who also do a great job, run a similar respite service for women.”