Communities and Justice

Diversion and therapeutic programs

Diversion and therapeutic programs support an efficient and effective justice system by helping to achieve better outcomes for individuals and communities. This is by addressing the underlying causes for behaviour that lead people to come in contact with the justice system. 

NSW Government offers programs that provide people access to rehabilitation, treatment, community-based supports, and education. These programs help address: 

  • drug and/or alcohol use 
  • mental illness and/or cognitive impairment
  • extreme poverty or financial hardship. 

Non-court-based programs

Early Drug Diversion Initiative (EDDI)

EDDI allows NSW Police to issue on the spot fines for low-level drug offences on two occasions. This is instead of a court attendance notice. The fine is resolved if penalty recipients pay the fine or speak to a nominated health professional. 

EDDI aims to provide people with low-level drug offences support to understand the risks associated with their drug use. It also aims to increase court efficiencies by diverting people away from the courts.  

Visit the EDDI webpage for more information.

Work and Development Order (WDO) Scheme

The WDO Scheme helps people who are experiencing hardship to reduce their unpaid fines. They can do this by participating in volunteer work, courses, treatment, programs, and other activities.

People experiencing hardship due to homelessness, economic stress, mental illness, drug and/or alcohol addiction, intellectual disability, or cognitive impairment are eligible to participate in the WDO Scheme.

To participate, an eligible person must be supported by an approved WDO sponsor. This may be an organisation, social worker, or health practitioner. 

Visit the WDO webpage for more information.

Court-based programs

Traffic Offender Intervention Program (TOIP)

This is a community-based, road safety education program. It is for people guilty of a traffic offence at the Local Court.

TOIP provides offenders with the information and skills necessary to develop positive attitudes towards driving and become safer drivers.

Visit the TOIP page for more information.

Statewide Community and Court Liaison Service (SCCLS)

SCCLS promotes the diversion from court for adult defendants with a serious mental illness. It connects them with appropriate health and support services. SCCLS operates under section 14 of the Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment Forensic Provisions Act 2020 (the Act). It is delivered by Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network.

Through SCCLS, individuals with low-level summary offences are assessed by a clinical team. Where appropriate, treatment and care from Local Health District Mental Health Services is recommended.

Visit the Justice Health NSW website for more information.

Justice Advocacy Service (JAS)

JAS promotes the diversion from court for eligible adult defendants with a cognitive impairment under the Act.

JAS also provides statewide advocacy support to victims, witnesses, and defendants with a confirmed or suspected cognitive impairment. This helps them to exercise their rights and fully participate in criminal justice processes.

Visit the JAS webpage for more information.

Magistrates Early Referral into Treatment (MERIT)

This is a voluntary treatment program for adult defendants appearing at the Local Court who have problematic alcohol and/or other drug use.

MERIT provides access to a wide range of alcohol and other drug treatment services for 12 weeks. During treatment, the defendant’s court matter is put on hold. MERIT aims to improve the health and wellbeing of participants and reduce reoffending.

Visit the MERIT webpage for more information.

Drug Court of NSW

The Drug Court is a specialist court that assists adult offenders in reducing or overcoming drug dependency and criminal offending. The Drug Court supervises the intensive community-based rehabilitation of eligible drug-dependent offenders who would otherwise be sentenced to full-time imprisonment. 

The Drug Court also provides judicial supervision for prisoner participants at the Compulsory Drug Treatment Correctional Centre (CDTCC). Eligible convicted offenders can be referred during sentencing for the program which involves both in-custody and community custody participation.

Visit the Drug Court website for more information.

First Nation’s alternative sentencing

Several court programs are available for First Nations peoples to provide a more holistic and culturally appropriate approach to sentencing. They include respected local Aboriginal people during sentencing processes. They support DCJ’s work to reduce overrepresentation of First Nations peoples in the criminal justice system.

Find out more about:

Children’s Court of NSW

There are a number of diversion and therapeutic options available for young people appearing before the criminal jurisdiction of the Children’s Court.

Youth Justice Conferences involves the participant talking about their offence and the impact it has on the victim. It is for less serious offences.

Youth Koori Court is available to First Nations young people. It is a modified process which better involves their families and the broader First Nations community.

The Adolescent Court and Community Team (ACCT) is for young people appearing before court with mental illness, mental conditions and cognitive impairment as defined in the Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment Forensic Provisions Act 2020. 

Other programs include A Place to Go, the Children’s Court Assistance Scheme and the Education Court Liaison Officer Program.

Visit the Children's Court webpage for more information.

Last updated:

04 Jun 2024