The Treatment Intervention Program commenced at Christies Beach Magistrates Court in May 2010 and the Elizabeth Magistrates Court in June 2011. It is funded from the existing budgets of the Diversion Program and the 6-month Drug Treatment Program. The joint funding reflects the fact that this is an integrated intervention program for defendants with mental impairment and/or substance dependence. TIP incorporates evidence based practices which have been shown to be effective in addressing recidivism as well as managing mental health symptoms. Where TIP operates it has replaced the Magistrates Court Diversion Program but it does not replace the Drug Court program, which only operates at the Adelaide Magistrates Court and is a more intensive 12 month program specifically for substance dependent offenders likely to be imprisoned.  Referrals for Drug Court can still be made. If a defendant is assessed and found to be more suitable for the Drug Court on the basis of their substance dependence this will be recommended to the Magistrate.

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Research shows that the prevalence of mental impairment, especially mental illness, among those in the criminal justice system (prisoners, offenders on community orders and accused on remand) is significantly greater than is found in the general population. It has been found that rates of the major mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and depression, are between three and five times higher than that expected in the general community. In addition a high proportion of people with mental disorders also have a substance use disorder and the co-occurrence of these disorders is often associated with poor treatment outcome, severe illness course and high service use. Most of the Australian research estimates comorbidity to be approximately 45-60%, which means around half of people who have one problem (mental illness or drug use) also have the other problem at the same time.

The link between drug use and crime has been well established therefore the coexistence of substance abuse with a mental disorder increases the level of the association with offending behaviour.

Best practice guidelines for working with people with mental disorder and substance use disorders promote an integrated treatment approach. TIP integrates the substance disorder treatment approaches that have been proven to be effective with offenders in a criminal justice setting with referral to appropriate health services for treatment and management of mental impairment symptoms.

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Program aims

  • Reduce re-offending
  • Improve mental and physical health and social functioning
  • Cease or significantly reduce drug use

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The Evaluation of the 6-month Drug Treatment Program which operates within the substance use and co-morbid streams of the Treatment Intervention Program was very positive.  It found statistically significant reductions in the drug use by program participants and the addendum report found program completers engaged in significantly less post program offending and less serious offending.

These reports are available on the website of the Office for Crime Statistics

- Evaluation of the 6-month Drug Treatment Program
- Evaluation of the 6-month Drug Treatment Program –Offending Addendum 

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Program eligibility

TIP targets adults who have been charged with a minor indictable or summary offence, where there is a link between the offending behaviour and mental impairment and/or substance dependence. 

To  be eligible a defendant must :

  • Have committed an offence whilst an adult (18 years of age or above at the date of commission of the offences)
  • Be charged with an offence that is related to drug use (but not necessarily a drug offence) and/or
  • Have a mental impairment and be charged with an offence that is related to the mental impairment.

Mental impairment is defined as:

  • mental illness
  • intellectual disability
  • a personality disorder
  • acquired brain injury, or
  • a neurological disorder including dementia.

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Program description

The duration of participation on TIP is six months.

For defendants who have a mental impairment and not a co-occurring substance dependence the program will operate in the same way as the Magistrates Court Diversion Program.

Supervision will be of low to medium intensity; court reviews will be every two months and the emphasis will be on linking defendants to treatment services in the community and supporting participants to engage in the treatment.

For defendants who have a mental impairment and/or a substance dependence the program will be more intensive and will be separated into two phases

Phase 1

Lasts 2 months and entails:

  • Simple bail
  • Fortnightly court reviews
  • Weekly or fortnightly contact with Program Supervisor (face to face and via telephone.)
  • Random supervised drug testing via urine testing which will be carried out at least twice per week. The venue for drug screening will depend on which courthouse TIP is operating. At the Adelaide Magistrates Court the drug testing is at the courthouse whereas at Elizabeth and Christies Beach the testing occurs at the Community Corrections office.  
  • Referral to drug treatment services which may involve individual therapy and/ or group therapy. Group therapy will involve attending MRT and Staying Quit programs run by OARS Inc

Phase 2

Lasts 4 months and entails:

  • Court reviews become monthly
  • Supervised random urine testing reduces to once a  week
  • All aspects of therapeutic intervention continue as per Phase 1
  • Rehabilitation and recovery plan implementation continues and is revised and updated
  • Contact with Program Supervisor will reduce to fortnightly unless more support is required.

The phases are a guide only and if participants need less or more time on a phase this can be accommodated.

Referral process

Referral from the General List to the Treatment Intervention Program must be made on the referral form. Once the form is received and a file made up, the defendant will be contacted in writing with an appointment time for an assessment. Program staff will also provide phone reminders the day before the appointment. Assessments to establish eligibility will be undertaken at the courthouse.

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Determining progress and successful completion

To be recommended to the court as qualifying for “successful” completion of the Treatment Intervention Program the participant must have:

  • No fresh charges

  • Attended and engaged in the treatment sessions

  • Demonstrated a willingness and ability to cease or significantly reduce substance use.

These requirements may take some time to achieve especially during the early stages of the program and participants will be encouraged and supported to comply however consistent non-compliance will result in a recommendation to cease the program.

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Program location

The Treatment Intervention Program operates at all metropolitan Magistrates Courts – Adelaide, Christies Beach, Elizabeth and Port Adelaide.  It also operates in the Youth Court.

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Program staff

There is a multidisciplinary clinical team from backgrounds in psychology, social work, behavioural science and occupational therapy. There is a team leader and 0.5 administrative staff.

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Youth Court Treatment Intervention Program

The Youth Court Treatment Intervention Program commenced at the end of 2011 and replaced the Youth Court Assessment and Referral Drug Scheme CARDS and the Youth Court Diversion Program (YCDP).

The Youth Court Treatment Intervention Program integrates assessment and treatment of young offenders with mental impairment and/or substance dependence. This approach has been adopted because the incidence of mental illness co-occurring with substance dependence is high and better outcomes can be achieved if these issues are addressed in an integrated way. Particular attention is paid to working with young defendants who may initially lack motivation to participate. The program targets youth who may not be eligible for a referral for a family conference due to the nature of their offending. Treatment is accessed from private psychologists.

For more general information refer to the information on the Treatment Intervention Program.

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Port Adelaide Nunga Court Treatment Program

Defendants appearing in the Port Adelaide Nunga Court who have underlying illicit substance abuse problems are offered the option of deferring sentencing for 6 months so they can participate in the Treatment Program. This is a voluntary program under the provisions of the Bail Act. Particular attention is paid to working with defendants who may initially lack motivation to participate. Once a defendant agrees to address their substance use issues they are linked in with the therapy and relapse prevention groups and are required to submit to random drug testing twice a week. There is provision for one-on-one counseling if this is considered appropriate.

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Related Links

Contact Us

For further information, contact the Treatment Intervention Program:
p: +61 8 8204 8615
f: +61 8 8204 8620
Postal Address:
Treatment Intervention Program
PO Box 6115, Halifax Street
Adelaide, South Australia, 5000