Question on notice 11065: Drug and alcohol rehabilitation for prisoners

(1) what assessments are conducted for prisoners upon entry to each prison to assess the level of drug treatment that is needed;
Wednesday, May 10, 2017 - 3:30pm
Sue Pennicuik

MS PENNICUIK — To ask the Minister for Corrections: In relation to drug and alcohol rehabilitation for prisoners and remandees —

(1) what assessments are conducted for prisoners upon entry to each prison to assess the level of drug treatment that is needed;
(2) what is the waiting time for accessing drug and alcohol programs in each prison for sentenced prisoners;
(3) in relation to counselling for participants in each of the drug and alcohol programs available in each Victorian prison, is there provision for one on one counselling in each program in each prison, if not, what provision is available for one on one counselling;
(4) what drug and alcohol programs are available for remandees in Victoria; and
(5) what are the completion rates of drug and alcohol programs for remandees in Victoria.

ANSWER on 6 June 2017:

Prison health services are required to provide a general health assessment for 100 per cent of prisoners within 24 hours of entering the system or being transferred to another prison site. During this assessment, health staff enquire about the prisoner's drug use history. From this assessment, prisoners may be identified as requiring medical support for substance withdrawal, or as being eligible for Opioid Substitution Therapy. Health staff may also refer prisoners to Alcohol and other drugs (AOD) treatment providers for further assessment and, if eligible and suitable, ongoing treatment.

There is no average wait time for access to AOD programs across the system or at individual prisons, as wait times are not routinely collected for AOD programs.

The wait time to access programs will depend on the prisoner's level of risk and need, current eligibility and suitability, their sentence length, and whether or not the prisoner is engaged in other interventions during their sentence which may have a higher priority — for example, programs for serious violent offenders. Program placement is also determined by treatment readiness and capacity to engage effectively in a group therapy program.

Most short-duration AOD programs do not require the prisoner to be assessed, thereby reducing barriers to accessing these programs. This ensures that prisoners with a short sentence or immediate need are able to readily access AOD programs.

AOD individual counselling is available in Victoria's public prisons. On top of this, additional hours of AOD individual counselling are available for prisoners participating in intensive AOD criminogenic programs. Due to the intensive format of these programs, they are specifically structured with individual counselling augmenting the individual's participation. Other programs are not designed with individual counselling to be offered as a supplement. However, all prisoners in Victoria's public prisons have access to general AOD individual counselling independent of group programs.

Remandees have access to a suite of short AOD programs, a suite of exit preparation programs, AOD general individual counselling, and a suite of 24-hour AOD health programs. At the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, a 12-hour relapse prevention program is also available for women on remand.

In addition. AOD peer educators are available at all public prisons to support fellow prisoners in making healthy choices about drugs and drug use.

The Department of Justice & Regulation collects commencement and completion data for all AOD programs but data for remandee AOD participation and completion rates are not separately collected and therefore are not available.