VICTORIA’S first wrap-around support program aimed at reducing Koori men’s contact with the justice system is set to begin in Mildura.

The Koori Men’s Diversion program will be piloted by Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS), thanks to the Department of Justice.

“The Koori Men’s Diversion Program is about providing intensive case management to the individual and their whole family,” MDAS Chief Executive Officer Jacki Turfrey explained.

“This involves providing support where it’s required – housing, alcohol and other drugs, family, building cultural connections. At MDAS, we are well placed to do this and we know that wrap-around support works because you can’t get good outcomes for one person without providing support for their whole family.”

The Koori Men’s Diversion program follows on from the successful Koori Women’s Diversion program delivered by MDAS in 2015-16 that helped 30 women. This program delivered positive outcomes including reduced offending, increased engagement with mental health services, and family reunification, and received ongoing funding in the 2017-18 State budget. The women’s program continues to be offered by MDAS today and is also available in Morwell.

Both the men’s and women’s programs provide individuals with support to successfully complete their court orders, bail and/or community corrections orders; referrals to programs and services that reduce their likelihood of offending or re-offending; and help to navigate the justice and broader social welfare systems.

The Koori Men’s Diversion Program at MDAS will run for two years.

“We will be working with 30 men and their families over the life of this project, with each to have a case plan developed and assisted in connecting with the right programs for their needs,” Ms Turfrey said.

“This includes providing practical support to ensure these men can get to appointments and take care of their responsibilities, as well as providing them with opportunities to reconnect to culture as a source of strength and healing.”