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The Aboriginal Post-Release Pathways Project: Creating Alternative Pathways from Imprisonment

24 Mar 2021
Ballroom 5

The Aboriginal Post-Release Pathways Project: Creating Alternative Pathways from Imprisonment

The Aboriginal Post-Release Pathways Project supports Aboriginal men and women exiting or in contact with the criminal justice system, requiring support for alcohol and other drug (AOD) issues. The program identifies and implements person-centred strategies to reduce the risk of re-offending and break the cycle of reincarceration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in South Australia.

Responding to concerns raised by The Adelaide PHN Aboriginal Community Advisory Council highlighting the lack of support and access to appropriate treatments and wrap-around support services for Aboriginal people exiting the criminal justice system, a co-design process was undertaken with key regional service providers from the offender post-release and Aboriginal specialist drug and alcohol sectors.

This process explored the issues experienced by individuals with previous or current substance use issues as they were leaving Correctional facilities. Strategies were developed to address the range of complex and chronic health problems, poverty, social disadvantage, cycles of imprisonment, inter-generational trauma and disconnection from culture/community evident within this extremely vulnerable cohort.

A nine-month trial project was implemented (March – November 2019), commissioned as a collaborative partnership model, providing holistic and flexible wrap-around supports incorporating care coordination, case management , counselling-based drug and alcohol treatment interventions and enhanced referral pathways to access culturally appropriate community-based treatment options. Evaluation of the pilot resulted in an extension of the program for a further seven months (until June 2020).

Since commencement 69 participants (81% of which identified Methamphetamine as drug of concern) have entered the program. Focusing on all life domains that support productive and independent community participation, positive treatment outcomes have been demonstrated in reduction / cessation of substance use, reduced reoffending, and improved quality of life. With overwhelmingly positive feedback on program experience related to the length of support (no cap) and breadth of wrap-around support.