Indigenous Australians are underrepresented in diversions by courts to drug and alcohol treatment facilities.
Indigenous people only make up 2.5% of Australia’s population but figures now show 26% of adult males in prison are Indigenous, 31% of adult females in prison are Indigenous and 49% of young people in juvenile detention are Indigenous.
A recent study by Deloitte Access Economics found that $111,000 can be saved per year per offender by diverting non-violent Indigenous offenders with substance use problems into treatment instead of prison. A further $92,000 per offender in the long term could be saved due to lower mortality and better health related quality of life outcomes.
In NSW in 2009, 42 per cent of male prisoners and 54 per cent of female prisoners reported having used at least one illicit drug ‘regularly’ (defined as daily or almost daily) in the year prior to imprisonment.
In 2009, in NSW prisons, more women (52%) than men (40%) reported a history of injecting drug use.
Research shows that a high percentage of inmates reported having had a drug problem at some stage in their lives (80% of males and 81% of females)
The majority of participants (70%) in the 2012 NSW Inmate Health Survey had used illicit drugs
Each year there are over 30 000 new prison receptions and over 150,000 movements among prisoners in New South Wales.