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High rate of offenders completing drug and alcohol counselling program in far west NSW

Date posted: 21 April 2016

A high amount of offenders living in far west New South Wales (NSW) are successfully completing a drug and alcohol diversion program known as the Magistrates' early referral into treatment (MERIT) program, which is run on a referral basis through the State's courts. MERIT sees clinicians provide drug and alcohol abuse counselling to defendants while they are on bail. The magistrate can take this program into account, when making a decision on sentencing.

The co-ordinator of the MERIT program in Broken Hill and Wilcannia, Peter Clottu, said that 80% of offenders referred to the program successfully complete it, compared to the state average of just 65% per cent.

'We see more people with alcohol problems than all other drugs combined...the elephant in the room is alcohol.'

MERIT has been running in Broken Hill for more than a decade, and deals with around 30 people over three months. The continuation of the program and its growth is made possible because of an additional clinician. Offenders can be referred to MERIT by the court, the police, or they can elect to refer themselves. Completion of the program can be made as a condition of bail.

To find out more, please see the links below.

Source: ABC News


Last updated: 21 April 2016
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Australia's National Research Centre on AOD Workforce Development National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre National Drug Research Institute