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Victorian drug treatment notice trial is a welcome next step to divert young people back to critical support services

Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS) welcomes the announcement from Victorian Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes to trial drug treatment notices and diversions following the introduction and debate of Fiona Patten’s Decriminalisation of Possession and Use of Drugs Bill.

YSAS is Victoria’s leading youth alcohol and other drugs support service for young people aged 12-25 who are seeking help with substance use issues and experiencing serious disadvantage.

Andrew Bruun, YSAS CEO said that the decision from Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes to establish a working group with police, health professionals, addiction specialists and youth workers to explore a drug treatment notice trial is a welcome next step to ensure young people are given the opportunity to recover and learn, rather than receiving a criminal penalty that will stick with them for life. 

“We know that when young people are given the opportunity to recover and learn from their choices in a supported environment with healthcare and youth workers they can not only overcome many of life’s challenges, but also access the opportunities and resources every young person needs to get back on track. 

“YSAS already works in partnership with the Victoria Police to operate the highly effective Embedded Youth Outreach Program (EOYP) which connects young people with youth workers at the first point of contact with police officers to treat addiction as a health issue, rather than a criminal one. 

“We’ve seen that when we put a pathway in place for young people that diverts them from the criminal justice system and back to treatment, education and other support services we can intervene early in a young person’s life and stop years of potential pain and misery” he said. 

“I’d like commend the Victorian Government for taking this critical next step to explore infringement trial options and meaningful action on Fiona Patten’s common sense drug reform which has widespread support from the Victorian drug and alcohol sector.”

Other components of the Decriminalisation of Possession and Use of Drugs Bill including the expansion of Victoria’s safe injecting facilities and drug checking trial would further the Victorian State Government’s commitment to keeping young people safe and minimising harm for many young Victorians with drug dependence or those who experiment with drugs recreationally.  

About YSAS (Youth Support + Advocacy Service)

The Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS) is Australia’s largest, youth-specific community service organisation. Operating since 1998 as Victoria’s flagship Youth Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) service, YSAS now employs over 400 skilled staff across 19 sites in metropolitan and regional Victoria. While YSAS continues to provide effective Youth AOD services, the organisation also has extensive experience in providing young people and families with services that support improved mental health and meaningful community participation.

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