Court Link is a new program based on individual case management and monitoring by the court to address the underlying causes of offending.
Where is Court Link available?
Court Link is available at Brisbane Magistrates Court. Court Link commenced in Brisbane on 27 November 2017, replacing the Queensland Integrated Court Referral Program (QICR).
In Brisbane, Court Link has a dedicated magistrate who conducts regular monitoring of Court Link participants on the first and third Friday of the month in courtroom 32. The magistrate oversees the participant’s progress, provides guidance and encourages the participant towards their case plan goals. The magistrate sets regular court appearances to be updated by Court Link officers on the participant’s progress.
Court Link officers are located on level 4 at the Brisbane Magistrates Court, 363 George Street, Brisbane.
Court Link will commence in Cairns in mid-2018.
What is Court Link?
Court Link is a 12-week bail-based program helping participants’ access treatment and support services in the community. Court Link focuses on providing solutions to address a participant’s offending behaviour. Court Link assists participants with their health and social needs by addressing their needs and risks, specifically:
- drug and/or alcohol dependency or abuse
- mental illness
- impaired decision-making capacity
- homelessness or risk of homelessness.
Benefits of Court Link
Court Link will better support the future needs of Queenslanders by addressing underlying issues associated with offending. Court Link:
- connects participants with appropriate treatment and support services
- gives magistrates information so they can encourage and monitor progress
- gives magistrates information to better understand a participant’s personal circumstances and underlying issues relating to offending
- has a team of staff to case manage participants requiring extra support
- aims to reduce the likelihood and seriousness of future offending.
Who is eligible to participate in Court Link?
People can participate in Court Link if they are before the Magistrates Court charged with any criminal offence, regardless of whether they will plead guilty or not guilty. Their matter must be heard in the Brisbane Magistrates Court district (transfers from other jurisdictions can be accepted if the program has capacity) and participants must be eligible for bail.
Participants may have issues or problems associated with:
- a physical or mental disability or illness
- drug and/or alcohol dependency or misuse
- homelessness or risk of homelessness
- inadequate social, family and economic support.
How will Court Link assist participants?
Professionally qualified Court Link officers assess the risks and needs of referred persons to determine the nature, intensity and frequency of support a person requires. People referred to Court Link, who are not suitable to participate in the program, may still receive assistance with referrals to community-based treatment or support services.
People assessed as suitable for Court Link will work closely with Court Link officers to develop a holistic case management plan. Court Link officers will also provide support through regular meetings, and coordinate referrals to community based services for support and assistance.
A failure to participate or engage in Court Link may be reported to the magistrate and may result in a participant’s removal from the program. Failure to participate in Court Link will not result in an offence for breach of the participant’s bail.
How do people access Court Link?
Anyone can make a referral to Court Link. Usually a referral is made by lawyers — including the duty lawyers at the Magistrates Court — or police at the Watch House. A Court Link Form 1 — Referral Form needs to be completed and submitted to Court Link. Individuals or their friends and family members can also complete this form.
The Court Link process
- A person charged with a criminal offence is referred to Court Link. Anyone can refer a person to Court Link, including legal representatives, police, a treatment or support program, court staff including the judiciary (via the court hearing as part of the bail application), family and friends or self-referral.
- The Court Link Form 1 — Referral Form is completed to share relevant information with Court Link staff for assessment. This includes offence details, legal status, ethnicity and any issues or problems that might warrant assessment by Court Link case managers.
- A Court Link case manager assesses the person to determine the appropriate level of service. The case manager considers a person’s criminal and legal history, their social and economic support needs, drug and alcohol use and physical and mental health.
- Court Link case managers determine whether a person needs access to community services, or is eligible for Court Link as they require more support through case management. If a person is eligible for Court Link, more detailed information is gathered at this stage and a case plan is developed. The case plan will identify the person’s needs and focus on their strengths, preferences and environment. The plan will also identify referrals to a range of treatment and support agencies.
- If the person is eligible for Court Link, a treatment pathway report will be submitted to the court (First Court Link mention). The court must approve a person’s participation in Court Link. The court may attach to a participant’s bail order a condition the person participate in Court Link. A person may only participate in case management if they are on bail.
- Following the court approving a person’s participation in Court Link, the case manager will regularly engage with the participant to motivate the person to engage in behaviour change and meet their case management plan goals.
- At intervals set by the court, the court will monitor the participant’s progress (Court Link progress mentions). Court Link staff provide the court with reports on the participant’s progress in the program.
- The Court Link program finishes when:
- the case management plan is completed
- the participant is removed from the program due to non-engagement or cannot complete the program
- the participant withdraws consent to participate or
- other legal matters arise.
The court finalises a person’s participation at a Final Court Link hearing. Court Link staff provide a Final Report to the court.
Court Link responsibilities
To participate in Court Link, participants must:
- give written, informed consent to participate in Court Link, which includes agreeing to the sharing of personal information between program staff, support services and the court
- treat Court Link staff with respect
- follow all reasonable directions of their Case Manager in relation to their case plan
- make a genuine effort to engage with treatment and support services, their Case Manager and the court process
- attend any appointments as directed by the court or their Case Manager
- tell their Case Manager if their contact details change
- attend court as directed.
Court Link runs for 12 weeks. The court has the discretion to extend this time if required.
Completing Court Link
Court Link finishes when:
- the case management plan is completed
- the participate is removed from the program due to non-engagement or cannot complete the program
- the participant withdraws consent to participate
- other legal matters arise.
It’s not an offence to breach Court Link as a condition of bail, but the magistrate will be told if a participant does not engage in Court Link. Not completing Court Link will not attract a penalty as program participation is voluntary.
Referral to some treatment and service providers may involve some costs. Concerns about any costs should be discussed with Court Link staff.
How many times can I use Court Link?
There is no limit on the times Court Link can be accessed. However, reoffending is very serious and this will be taken into account by the court.