Community, offenders benefit with $17 million support to stay straight

Issued: Thursday, 4 September 2014
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The NSW Government today launched a new funding package that will see five times as many offenders supported upon their release into the community, making communities safer in the process, Attorney General and Minister for Justice Brad Hazzard announced today.

The $17 million package over three years will see services expanded to those most at risk of falling off the straight and narrow – especially those with a history of mental health problems, drug and substance abuse.

“This package transforms the way transition support is offered in NSW – it will support far more offenders and will better focus on those parolees at higher risk because we know they are the most likely to end up going back to jail, either through breaching their parole conditions or re-offending,’’ Mr Hazzard said.

“In NSW an offender is 2.5 times more likely to return to prison in the first three months of release, compared to 9-12 months down the track, so we will focus on this initial transition period while allowing for extended help for those who require it.”

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has estimated a 10 per cent reduction in the overall rate of return to prison in NSW would reduce the NSW sentenced prisoner population by 829 inmates.

“The offenders often have substance abuse and mental health issues, have lost contact with family, and need assistance finding accommodation and a job,” Mr Hazzard said.

“To help them stay on the right track, this scheme will link them with job-finding and accommodation services, drug and alcohol counselling, mental health assistance, and a range of other support services.’’

Mr Hazzard announced the first tranche of funding – $11 million over three years – under the new Funded Partnership Initiative, which has been allocated to 14 non-government agencies for offender transition support, as well as support for offenders’ families and victims of crime.

Corrective Services NSW will consult with peak community organisations prior to awarding an additional $4.8 million also designated for support services under the new package.

Selected tenderers for initial transition support include arbias in partnership with the Australian Community Support Organisation, the Community Restorative Centre and the Salvation Army. SHINE for Kids is a successful family support tenderer while Enough is Enough won a tender for victim support.

Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) Commissioner Peter Severin said CSNSW’ Community Corrections Officers would continue to supervise parolees in the community while working closely with highly experienced NGOs to ensure targeted and effective transition support services.

“This system replaces our former Community Funding Program and the first tranche lifts transition support funding from $5.3 million over three years to almost $8.4 million over three years – it will support almost 700 offenders per year, up from about 135,’’ said Mr Severin.

“Initial transition support services will extend from Sydney, the Hunter and Lismore to 14 locations across the state, which is a big step forward to promoting the safe and effective transition of regionally based offenders.’’

“This package, which also includes rigorous implementation and evaluation costs, represents a $17 million investment in community safety.’’

Mr Hazzard said the NSW Government was committed to reducing re-offending for the well-being of offenders, and the community.

“This boost to funding and focusing on those offenders most at risk is a sound investment for the community and I expect we will see a good return with people staying out of jail and getting their lives back in order.”