Long wait for drug rehab program

THE waiting list for an offender drug rehab program has blown out to more than 12 months in the North.

The court-mandated drug diversion program is available to offenders who break the law primarily because of a drug addiction.

To be eligible the offenders must be facing a prison sentence.

Last week a lawyer told the Launceston Magistrates Court that he'd been advised the wait for his client to access the program was 13 months.

The long wait is adding to a case backlog with many offenders adjourning their sentencing until there's a spot in the program.

The Law Society of Tasmania has called for more funding for the Northern program which is now capped at 20 places.

"There's real potential (in the program) to address the causes of offending," society president Anthony Mihal said.

"People who ought to be in the program their cases are bing adjourned and potentially ... re- offending on bail, so it's to the detriment of the person and the public interest."

The waiting list for the program was building steadily through 2013.

The program is funded by the federal government and administered by the state.

Neither governments appear keen to boost funding levels.

A spokesman for the federal Health Department said a request for more money would have to come from the state government.

Vanessa Goodwin, who will be sworn in as Attorney General today, said the state coffers were too bare to help prop up the program.

"Once the budget situation is under control, we will be able to consider increasing funding for programs like this," she said.

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