The 2014 Drug Court Practitioners conference was held on 15 August 2014.
Honour Judge Dive, Senior Judge of the Drug Court, opened the conference welcoming 130 conference participants from NSW and interstate including interagency partners from Parramatta, Hunter and Sydney Drug Courts.
The father of a graduate from the Hunter Drug Court provided a moving account on his experience of the Hunter Drug Court. This speaker commended the efforts of the Drug Court and said that the Drug Court returned his 38 year old son, who was involved in the criminal justice system for 18 years, to their family and believes that his son has now become "the person he was always meant to be".
Addiction - is it moral failure, a personality disorder, a disease or a biological predisposition? Professor John Saunders, Professor and Consultant Physician in Internal Medicine and Addiction Medicine discussed these issues when presenting 'Understanding Addiction'.
What to do about illicit drugs?" Dr Alex Wodak AM, Emeritus Consultant, Alcohol and Drug Service, St Vincent's Hospital posed this question, speaking on the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of drug treatment and harm reduction.
The conference participants gained more insight into the complex needs of women in the justice system where Dr Eileen Baldry, Professor of Criminology, University of NSW stated that significant saving are to be gained if appropriate holistic services are provided to prevent engagement and re-engagement of women in the criminal justice system.
Other speakers addressed the conference participants about Aboriginal cultural issues that affect relations with the criminal justice system and Mr Bowron, Senior Scientist, Drug Toxicology Unit provided an overview of how drugs are detected, how they are metabolised and how long they can stay in the body.
It was a special sitting for the Sydney Drug Court at the Downing Centre on 29 May 2014, with the team gathering to mark and celebrate the first graduation. The young man at the centre of proceedings received heart-felt congratulations from every member of the cross-agency team for persisting with his recovery. For the Sydney Court's first graduate, the tailored program involved literacy and numeracy education, as well as Narcotics Anonymous, and has also helped him re-establish his closest relationships.
In summing up the case, Senior Judge Dive also congratulated the team, noting the culture of respect and co-ordination across different agencies towards the common goal of community safety, and commending the Government for expanding the program to Sydney CBD in early 2013.
In March 2014 the NSW Drug Court again partnered with Housing NSW to assist Drug Court participants into stable and secure housing in the Sydney District, a scheme that has operated successfully in the Greater Western Sydney District since 2011.
In launching the program, the District Director at Department of Family and Community Services, emphasised the importance of stable accommodation in a participant's recovery and said the program had been "integral in turning so many lives around. Senior Judge Dive said that housing underpins the recovery program for participants. "Without housing, without a safe place to sleep, the rest of our program is literally without foundation", he said.
The partnership will assist Drug Court participants to reintegrate into the community and meet the objectives of the Drug Court Act.
Amendments to the Drug Court Regulation 2010 commenced on 7 January 2013 allowing referrals to the new Sydney Drug Court.
The Sydney Drug Court commenced sitting at the Downing Centre on 14 February 2013.
View the quick guide to the Sydney Drug Court for practitioners.
The Drug Court of NSW recognises that stable housing is a fundamental element in supporting a drug dependant person's recovery and subsequent success on the Drug Court Program.
On 18 February 2011 a Shared Access Operating Agreement was signed between the Drug Court of NSW and Housing NSW. The partnership commenced with the signing of the agreement by Judge Dive, Senior Judge, Drug Court of NSW and Ken Bone, General manager of the Greater Western Sydney Housing Services Division.
The partnership is established under the NSW Housing and Human Services Accord that aims to provide housing and support to clients with complex housing needs in order to assist them to sustain their tenancies.
A series of meetings, presentations and interagency visits have ensued between the two partner agencies. Drug Court of NSW and NSW Housing worked co-operatively to address initial challenges and apply solutions.
In the period of twelve months since commencement of the Agreement, a total of eleven Drug Court participants have been referred. Six have been housed, two terminated from the program prior to being housed, one transferred to another NSW Housing home and two are on the priority list awaiting housing.
The Agreement was effective from 18 February 2011 for a period of two years. It is recommended that six monthly reviews occur to assess the efficiency of processes and procedures regarding the implementation of the Agreement.
The Attorney General the Honourable Greg Smith SC MP opened the Drug Court of NSW's Practitioners - Conference on 2 December 2011.
The Attorney stated that his government is committed to reducing recidivism and pursuing programs that work and confirmed that the Drug Court will further expand. He verified that the Sydney Drug Court is scheduled to commence operations in May 2012, initially sitting one day per week and located at the Downing Centre.
The Attorney congratulated Judge Dive on receiving the prestigious Prime Minister's Award and stated "The good work that Judge Dive and his team achieves was recognised earlier this year at the 2011 National Drug and Alcohol Awards, an award that recognises an individual as having made a significant commitment and contribution to reducing the impact and negative effects of drug and alcohol use".
His Honour Judge Dive welcomed the 120 guests including Judges, Magistrates from NSW and interstate and interagency program partners from both Parramatta and Hunter Drug Courts.
Dr Eileen Baldry, Professor of Criminology, University of NSW gave a presentation outlining Pathways to Prison for Mentally Ill Offenders. Professor Ian Hickie AM from the Brain and Mind Research Institute spoke about the Development of the Brain and its related changes in cognitive function and social behaviour.
Other speakers addressed the conference on the effects of Drug Use and Crime on the Aboriginal and Vietnamese communities as well as prison communities.
Craig Jones, Research Manager at the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research spoke about the recent findings from a trial of intensive judicial supervision on Drug Court outcomes. The research, conducted at the Parramatta Drug Court, involved intensively supervising a sample of Drug Court participants more closely, preliminary results of which are very encouraging.
Dr Peter Bowron, Senior Scientist at the Palms Toxicology addressed the conference regarding analysis of biological samples for Drug Court.
The conference brought together those committed to therapeutic jurisprudence to share information and expertise. This team based approach where all agencies co-ordinate and share information is the essence of the success of the Drug Court program.
On Monday, 7 March 2011 the Hunter Drug Court was officially opened. Senior Drug Court Judge, Judge Roger Dive Presided over the opening ceremony assisted by Acting Drug Court Judge, Judge Paul Cloran.
Since opening, the Hunter Drug Court has received a large number of referrals with many participants now on program. It is anticipated that this intensive program will treat approximately 80 offenders each year.
The Hunter Drug Court program is a duplication of the Parramatta Drug Court Program, which has been in operation for the past 12 years. The Hunter Drug Court expansion has been due in part to the positive findings of the
BOSCAR review of the Parramatta Drug Court program. This review found that the Drug Court program provides a cost effective program that does reduce recidivism and drug use among participants.
In keeping with the Parramatta Drug Court model the Hunter Drug Court team work in a collaborative relationship with the Drug Court Judge and registry staff to support and facilitate each participant's progress through this successful program. The Hunter Drug Court team are drawn from partner agencies including NSW Police, ODPP, Legal Aid, Corrective Services and the Hunter Heath service. The team will work with other Government and Non-Government agencies in the Hunter region to affect change in the lives of Hunter Drug Court participants.The Hunter Drug Court sits each Monday at the Toronto Court House and will expand to Tuesdays as the program increases. The Hunter Drug Court is now accepting referrals from the following Courts.
On 18 February 2011 a Shared Access Operating Agreement was signed between the Drug Court of NSW and Housing NSW.
The partnership commenced with the signing of the agreement by Judge Dive, Senior Judge, Drug Court of NSW and Ken Bone, General Manager of the Greater Western Sydney Housing Services Division.
The Shared Access Operating Agreement is an Agreement between the parties to provide housing and support to participants of the Drug Court Program in Western Sydney. The aim of both parties is to assist participants in sustaining a tenancy whilst engaging in services that reduce drug-dependency and re-offending.
The key objectives for the partnership are:
At the signing His Honour Judge Dive said 'This accord will be a big step forward, whereby the Drug Court and Housing NSW will work together to identify and house up to 20 drug court participants at any one time, and allow them to move away from drugs and crime with the assistance of stable and secure housing'.
His Honour further added, 'This partnership means now eligible Drug Court clients will now receive support to find safe and secure housing and also to maintain the housing tenancy. These clients will continue to receive services that reduce drug-dependency and re-offending, reflecting the holistic approach of the Drug Court program'.
The Drug Court of NSW and Housing NSW will plan, co-ordinate and implement housing and support strategies to build and strengthen service responses for people with complex needs.
The partnership will operate for the next two years in Sydney West and Sydney South West Area Health Service boundaries.
The NSW Drug Court formalised its collaboration with Corrective Services NSW with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by Judge Roger Dive and Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Ron Woodham in June. The memorandum defines how the Community Compliance Group established by Corrective Services NSW works with the Drug Court to support participants comply with Court Orders and re-establish themselves in the community.
At the signing Judge Dive noted that the Drug Court, which operates in Parramatta was a true model of government and non-government organisations working together to provide a holistic program.
"The Drug Court and Corrective Services NSW are foundation partners in this program. We have been working together to make this program the outstanding success it is for over 11 years", Judge Dive said. "The Memorandum of Understanding is a refreshing document. It embraces the concept of a treatment court, and sets out the support the Case Manager will provide to participants, so as to assist their re-integration into the community".
Compliance and Monitoring Officers ensure participants stay on track by maintaining regular contact, supervising and monitoring medical appointments and program activities. They also help participants gain assistance with employment, relationship, health and legal issues.
Commissioner Woodham described the partnership between Corrective Services NSW and the Drug Court as a healthy working relationship. "I look forward to staff from Corrective Services NSW and the Drug Court continuing to working together in managing repeat drug offenders and assisting them to return to the community and ultimately reduce reoffending rates", he said.
Attorney General John Hatzistergos said the NSW Government is considering extending the NSW Drug Court as part of "a big year for therapeutic justice."
In his address to the Drug Court's conference in Parramatta on 6 February, Mr Hatzistergos said that the Drug Court could be extended to other locations in NSW. The first of its kind in Australia, the Drug Court is celebrating 10 years of operation.
The Court has helped almost 1700 drug-dependent offenders to address the causes of their criminal behaviour. Around 150 defendants complete the program each year, following intensive drug treatment and rehabilitation.
The Court's success at rehabilitating non-violent, drug addicted offenders has given it significant international renown, according to Senior NSW Drug Court Judge Roger Dive, who also spoke at the conference.
The Deputy Director of the NSW Drug Court by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Craig Jones, presented the Bureau's second evaluation of the Drug Court. Graduates of the Drug Court rehabilitation program were compared to those who were not accepted into the program. The researchers found that those who had completed the Drug Court program were less likely to be reconvicted than offenders given conventional sanctions.
Professor Richard Mattick, Director of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, gave a presentation outlining the trends in drug use in NSW and Australia. Professor Mattick's research showed that Australia was experiencing an increase in the use of the class of drugs known as methamphetamines. These include the drug ice, a substance notorious for causing violent behaviour, which he said would be a challenge for a program such as the Drug Court.