Legislative Council: Wednesday, October 18, 2023


Correctional Facilities Drug Treatment Programs

In reply to the Hon. C. BONAROS ().30 August 2023).

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): The Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services has advised:

There are various services and programs available for prisoners in relation to substance misuse. These include:

The South Australian Prison Health Service (SAPHS) offers Opioid Agonist Therapy (OAT) for prisoners who request it for opioid addiction, whether sentenced or remand. There is no current waiting list for a person to start the OAT assessment process.

All Department for Correctional Services (DCS) intensive behaviour change programs include modules on substance misuse and how it relates to prisoner's offending behaviours. DCS also runs the Making Changes program, specifically for general offending related to drug and alcohol use and abuse. Those found suitable will be added to a waitlist and are considered for program involvement as close as possible to their release date. This maximises the effectiveness of the treatment upon release.

Services procured by Offenders Aid & Rehabilitation Services (OARS) and Aboriginal Drug & Alcohol Council (ADAC) are voluntary and available to both sentenced and remand prisoners in the form of the Smart Recovery program, Drug Awareness Program, individual counselling and tailored support for participating Aboriginal clients.

Prisoners in custody, whether sentenced or remand, can access a free telephone helpline for Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) counselling provided by Life Without Barriers and Uniting Communities.

There are a range of service delivery options provided by DCS, SAPHS and non-government organisations. The intensive behaviour change programs are the only programs that require the prisoner to be sentenced and have enough time to access the program.

Intensive behaviour change programs are not offered to prisoners until they are sentenced due to the need for in-depth discussion about offending, including current offences (charges). If a person is pleading not guilty they cannot engage in program content in a meaningful way. In addition, until a person is sentenced the length of time available for treatment is not known. Research into best practice in offender rehabilitation indicates that a person's risk of reoffending may increase if they do not complete a rehabilitation program in full. DCS programs run for differing lengths of time, depending on the program, so the length of time a prisoner is sentenced to is important in ascertaining their priority for attending a rehabilitation program relevant to their assessed needs.

This government has committed to increasing the number and range of programs available through the reducing reoffending 20 per cent by 2026 target, and Closing the Gap initiatives. This includes programs for people who are sentenced, on remand, and in the community. Various services and programs are available for prisoners in relation to substance misuse that can be accessed during their time in custody. The intensive behaviour change programs are the only programs that require the prisoner to be sentenced and have enough time to access the program.