Non-government organisations in Northland dealing with issues around drug rehabilitation are being urged to apply for help from the broadened Proceeds of Crime Fund.
During a visit to Whangārei yesterday, Justice Minister Andrew Little said he expected applications from community entities in Northland that dealt with crime-related harm to make bids from October.
The Ministry of Justice has broadened the fund's scope to include initiatives that deal with methamphetamine and other drugs so that agencies can test new ideas for dealing with crime-related harm.
Changes include one third of funding must be prioritised for fighting organised criminal groups dealing in meth and other drugs, expanding the group of agencies that can apply for money, and allowing for multi-year funding for initiatives.
Previously, only a small number of government departments were eligible to apply for funding.
"We know drug use is a specific problem in Northland, particularly methamphetamine. Although the previous project put in place was very successful in terms of getting users off it and turn their lives turned around, there still remains a problem," Little said.
"We've just opened the process for bids and I'd be surprised if there weren't some bids coming out of the Northland region.
"I hope there are and it's not just Corrections but it's the community organisations thinking things that they know will be useful and if they can do with a bit of support to roll out even further."
Little said crime fighting was still a top priority in terms of the fund's allocation but more initiatives were needed to deal with the victims of crime to make sure they were getting support to deal with complex issues.
The ministry, he said, wanted to make sure NGOs tried new initiatives that would get people off that offending track.
Little visited the Whangarei Law Courts where he was briefed on the pilot Sexual Violence Court, the Rangatahi Court, and watched the Youth Court in session.
His ministry announced law changes recently to help with the conduct of trials involving sexual violence in order to make it less traumatic for victims to give evidence.
He spoke to Judge Greg Davis on Rangatahi Court proceedings which he said was making an impact in reducing youth offending.
"The benefit of that court is it can deal with the young Maori offender and their whanau and get to some of the issues that are causing some of the offending and that court is very effective in drawing in, not just other whanau, but other services as well to help the young offender off offending."
Little's visit came just a day after Finance Minister Grant Robertson spoke at the Hihiaua Cultural Centre and later addressed business leaders in Whangārei.