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Queensland Magistrates Early Referral into Treatment

Courts Innovation Programs - Magistrates Court

The QMERIT program is a voluntary, bail-based diversion program for defendants charged with an offence relating to illicit drug use.

If you’re eligible, the program can provide drug rehabilitation support while you’re on bail to help you address issues of illicit drug use.

The program gives you the skills and confidence to improve your health and wellbeing, and reduce offending behaviour. It also benefits the whole community though reduced drug-related crime.

The program can also help you:

  • become drug free
  • reconnect with family and friends
  • find and maintain employment
  • find stable accommodation
  • engage with other support agencies after you complete the program.

The QMERIT program operates in the Maroochydore and Redcliffe Magistrates Courts only.

What the program offers

QMERIT is a 12–16 week treatment program supervised by the QMERIT Health Team and tailored to meet your needs.

Depending on your drug problem, the program can offer you:

  • medically supervised and community-based withdrawal
  • in-house residential rehabilitation
  • individual counselling (incorporating goal setting, motivational interviewing and decision making, problem solving, and relapse prevention and management strategies)
  • maintenance programs (e.g. Methadone, buprenorphine and acamprosate)
  • family therapy
  • day treatment and welfare support programs (e.g. psycho-education and relapse prevention)

You may complete the program in the community; however, in-house residential rehabilitation may be offered if required.

Currently, beds are allocated to the QMERIT program at several residential rehabilitation facilities.

Eligibility

You are eligible for the QMERIT program if you:

  • are 17 years of age or over and charged as an adult
  • are on bail or eligible for bail
  • have an illicit drug use problem you’re willing to address
  • live in an area where you can attend treatment and support
  • have charges relating to illicit drug use
  • have at least one charge that can be dealt with summarily (meaning in the Magistrates court)
  • have charges before the Maroochydore or Redcliffe Magistrates Court.

A plea is not generally required to be entered as this is a pre-plea diversion program. You can enter a plea at any time from your first appearance to the end of the program.

All your court matters will be adjourned until you complete the program.

How to proceed

  1. Once you’ve been charged with an offence, contact the QMERIT Court Coordinator, or your solicitor or court staff member about being assessed for the program.

    An eligibility screen will be completed and an appointment made with the QMERIT Health Team to look at your suitability for the program and treatment options. (If your current or previous charges involve allegations of a sexual or violent nature, you’ll be asked to consent to this information being provided to the QMERIT Health Team).

  2. Attend court where the magistrate may:
    1. place you on bail with a condition to attend the program (if you’ve already completed the assessment phase)
    2. adjourn the matter to allow the QMERIT Health Team to assess your suitability. They will report their findings to the magistrate who will make a decision.
  3. Attend the tailored 12–16 week treatment program and comply with all reasonable directions of the QMERIT Health Team.
  4. Throughout the program, return to court for reviews.
  5. Attend court at the completion of treatment for the charges to be dealt with. The magistrate may consider your successful completion during sentencing and impose a reduced penalty.

Requirements

During treatment, you must:

  • not commit further criminal offences
  • comply with all your bail conditions
  • participate fully in the program, including attending appointments, and other activities as agreed between you and the QMERIT Health Team
  • attend court reviews to assess your progress (normally monthly)
  • attend QML for random urine drug screens
  • abide by the in-house rehabilitation program (if that’s your choice of treatment)

Withdrawing from the program

If you withdraw from the program, your charges continue to proceed through the court. If you’re sentenced, you’re not punished or dealt with more severely because you didn’t complete the program.

Completing the program

Once you complete the program, the magistrate continues to hear your case or sentence you, depending on your plea. If you’re sentenced, the magistrate may consider your involvement in the program.

You may be able to participate in the program multiple times (at the discretion of the court).

Further support and information

September 2016
  • Land Court wins award
Queensland Land Court Reports
  • Volume 35 - Now available
Last reviewed
19 January 2017
Last updated
2 December 2016

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