Queensland Drug and Alcohol Court

Drug courts provide an intensive and targeted response to offenders with a severe substance use disorder contributing to their offending behaviour. The Drug and Alcohol Court will be targeted at adult offenders and require participants to be supervised and undertake treatment and program interventions that seek to address their drug and/or alcohol dependency issues and criminal offending.

The Drug and Alcohol Court is expected to be operational in Brisbane by late 2017.

Legislation update

The Penalties and Sentences (Drug and Alcohol Treatment Orders) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 was introduced into Parliament on 10 August 2017. The amendment Bill enables a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Order to be included into Queensland’s existing sentencing framework.

The Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee has released its report into its examination of the Penalties and Sentences (Drug and Alcohol Treatment Orders) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017.

The committee considered whether the Bill had sufficient regard to the rights and liberties of individuals, and to the institution of parliament.

The committee found diversionary programs provide a means of rehabilitation and are an important component of a properly functioning justice system.

The committee has recommended that the Bill be passed. Read the full report.

Drug and Specialist Courts Review

The Drug and Specialist Courts Review was initiated in late 2015 to ensure the Drug Court model for Queensland is evidence-based, cost-effective, and reflects contemporary best practice in addressing drug-related offending. The main focus of the review was on developing options for the Drug Court’s reinstatement. The review also considered how to best improve the current suite of court programs to enhance their operation.

The review was led by Emeritus Professor Arie Freiberg AM, Dr Karen Gelb, Dr Jason Payne and Emeritus Professor Toni Makkai (on behalf of the Australian National University) and Mr Anthony Morgan (on behalf of the Australian Institute of Criminology) and supported by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General.

The review involved extensive consultation with over 140 government and non-government stakeholders. It also involved a review of best practice in specialist court, and court diversionary approaches in Australia and overseas, to address issues related to offending, including drug and/or alcohol issues, mental health issues and housing instability. A review of best practice in court-based alcohol and other drug interventions in Australia and internationally was also undertaken.

Release of the Queensland Drug and Specialist Courts Review report

The Drug and Specialist Courts Review Final Report was released on 13 June 2017. The full report, including summary and recommendations are publicly available.

About the former Drug Court

The former Queensland Drug Court operated as a post-sentence option in five court locations across Queensland (Beenleigh, Ipswich and Southport in South East Queensland, and Cairns and Townsville in Far North Queensland)

It operated under the Drug Court Act 2000, which was repealed in 2013.

The following reports evaluated the former Drug Court, including referral, participation and outcomes such as rate of reoffending (recidivism) in the program and after graduation or termination: