New program to reduce offending by problem gamblers
In an Australian first, a new intervention program is being rolled out in the Adelaide Magistrates Court in an effort to help people break the cycle of problem gambling and offending.
The 18-month pilot, available to people pleading guilty in the Adelaide Magistrates Court, mirrors similar programs addressing substance abuse and mental health.
Communities and Social Inclusion Minister Zoe Bettison said the program aims to help problem gamblers in the justice system to address their problems and get back on their feet.
"The intervention program offers support and case management to help people to break the cycle of compulsive gambling and offending," Ms Bettison said.
"This is a first for Australia and it has the potential to help people overcome their gambling addiction and reduce custodial sentencing.
"The program has benefits not only for the offender, but also for their families and the community."
The program enables offenders to address their gambling addiction and criminal behaviour through intensive gambling therapy and holistic case management. This can include housing
support, financial counselling and employment services.
Participants must also be willing to participate in a Statewide Gambling Therapy Service program.
Magistrates or lawyers can refer a defendant to the program under existing Treatment Intervention Court referral documents. Eligibility assessment will be managed by Magistrates
Court Treatment Intervention Court case managers.
Law Society of South Australia President Rocco Perrotta said the program aims to help people overcome their behavioural problems, to restore control over their lives and to reduce the
likelihood of re-offending.
"This is a great initiative that recognises the value of addressing underlying issues that can lead to criminal behaviour," Mr Perrotta said
"Providing these treatment programs will help compulsive gamblers get their lives back on track, thus reducing the likelihood of re-offending, better protecting the community and easing
the strain on the justice system."
The pilot is funded by the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion's Office for Problem Gambling and the Courts Administration Authority.
Relationships counselling will be provided by Offenders Aid and Rehabilitation Services.
For more information about the Office of Problem Gambling call (08) 846 33403