The ACT Government committed to establishing an ACT Drug and Alcohol Court in the 9th Parliamentary Agreement as part of its goal to reduce recidivism by 25% by 2025.

In June 2019, the ACT Government introduced the Sentencing (Drug and Alcohol Treatment Orders) Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 to establish the Drug and Alcohol Court sentencing option.

The Drug and Alcohol Court deals with offences that relate to serious drug and alcohol use. It protects the community and reduces offending by rehabilitating high risk and high need offenders who have serious issues with drug and/or alcohol use.

The aim of the Drug and Alcohol Court is to achieve long-term behavioural change, taking a problem-solving approach to dealing with a participant’s behaviour and supporting participants to develop a pro-social lifestyle.

The Drug and Alcohol Court provides targeted and structured health and justice interventions while holding people to account for their behaviour.

Drug and Alcohol Courts have been operating in other Australian states and overseas with clear benefits for participants, their families, and the wider community.

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The Court was developed collaboratively between various Government and non-government agencies. The Court has been operating since December 2019 and marked its 2nd anniversary in December 2021.

Initially led by Acting Justice Lorraine Walker, the Court has been led by Acting Justice Refshauge since July 2020 and supported by the Drug and Alcohol Court (DAC) Team. The Team includes Government health and justice representatives, as well as prosecution and defence lawyers, and includes police and housing support as required.

The DAC Team is responsible for supporting participants through the program and administering the day-to-day operations. This includes reviewing participant progress during pre-hearing review meetings and contributing observations and recommendations within team members’ respective areas of expertise.

In August 2022, the ACT Government released an independent evaluation by the Australian National University on the Drug and Alcohol Court. The Final report is available here

More information is available on the ACT Courts website.