LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS: Embedding education into the fabric of the Drug Court

Ms Elisa Buggy1

1 Judicial College of Victoria

Although ongoing multi-disciplinary education is considered an essential component of successful drug courts (being #9 of the Internationally-accepted Ten Key Components of Drug Courts), it is often implemented on an as-needed, topic-driven basis rather than through the establishment of a systemically-developed curriculum.  All too often, educational programs within Drug Courts and other solutions-focused courts are seen as optional, particularly for key members of the team, i.e. judicial officers, legal representatives, and prosecutorial services.  The expansion of the Drug Court in Victoria from one site, 18 staff, and 60 participants, to three sites, 60 staff, and 170 participants has provided the perfect opportunity to re-right the theory-to-practice balance by incorporating the design and implementation of a robust education program from commencement.

This paper will describe the development of the Drug Court Education Program, including an exploration of the elements of the curriculum, both in the initial implementation phase of the expansion, and as an embedded component of the expanded program ongoing.  It will highlight the importance of co-design to ensure a thorough needs and gap analysis are conducted, before exploring some of the less conventional features of the program, for example, reflective practice as a team, and the importance of team-based authentic leadership in successful solutions-focused courts.

What works and why? Achieving better outcomes at the Drug Court of NSW

Senior Judge Roger Dive

Drug Courts of NSW

P.O. Box 92 Parramatta  NSW  2124

The Drug Court of NSW has reached maturity – 18 years of age.  In that time the Court has expanded to three locations, and maintains 250 participants at any one time.  Judge Dive has been the Senior Judge for 12 of those years.

What have we learnt in those years?  Judge Dive will reflect on the key lessons learnt by the judges and program partners across those years.

The NSW Bureau of Crimes Statistics and Research studied the benefit of “Intensive Judicial Supervision at the Drug Court – how has the Court responded to that research, and what are the results?

The pattern of drug use has also changed across those years, and there is now a sustained increase in the use of “ice”.  Flexibility has been required from the court, with changes to policies and practices to meet a constantly changing treatment environment.

Some insights will also be provided as to what goes on behind the scenes to maintain the program.


Judge Roger Dive has been a Judge of the District Court of NSW, and the Senior Judge of the Drug Court, since July 2004.  Before those appointments Judge Dive had been a Local Court Magistrate since 1989, sitting in both city and country courts.

He held the roles of Senior Civil Magistrate and Senior Children’s Magistrate during 15 years on that bench.  In the Children’s Court, Judge Dive sat in the Care and Criminal jurisdictions, taking a particular interest in the chronic issues of the far West of this State.

Judge Dive was awarded the 2011 Prime Minister’s Award for outstanding contribution to Drug and Alcohol endeavours.



The meaning and application of ‘therapeutic’ in the Alcohol and Other Drug Courts of New Zealand

Katey Thom1, Stella Black2

1 University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142,

2 University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142,

This paper will explore the meaning of ‘therapeutic’ in the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court (AODT Court) pilots of Aotearoa, New Zealand. Drawing on qualitative research that included courtroom observation (over 200 hours), interviews with the court team professionals (n=25), and document analysis, the presentation will explore the four strands – Law, Lore, Recovery and Drug Court Best Practice – that we argue are woven together to produce a therapeutic philosophy of the AODT Court. Understanding the ‘therapeutic’ as a practical accomplishment in the AODT Court, we will illustrate the weaving of these strands with examples grounded in the everyday reality of professionals as they interact within the courtroom. We will then consider how the therapeutic philosophy adopted in AODT Court can be understood within the context of international conceptualisations of therapeutic jurisprudence, as well as the ways in which the AODTCs may be developing organically to reflect the unique cultural, legal, and clinical practices of Aotearoa. The presentation will conclude by considering some of the challenges faced by the professional team that have the potential to disrupt the production of the ‘therapeutic’ in the AODT Court.


Katey Thom is a Senior Research Fellow within the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland. With a background in sociology and health sciences, most of her research has focused on the topic of social justice within mental health and addictions. Her research to date has covered the application of mental health law and human rights, and more recently, the use of therapeutic approaches in the criminal justice system of Aotearoa New Zealand.

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