The Family Drug Treatment Court: From establishment to practice and beyond

Magistrate  Kay  Macpherson2, Magistrate Greg Levine2, Ms Viv Mortell2, Miss Elisa Buggy1

1Judicial College Of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, 2Children’s Court of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, 3Department of Health and Human Services, Melbourne, Australia

The Family Drug Treatment Court was established in Victoria in 2014. The first of its kind in Australia, it has been developed using the principles of solutions-focused courts to address parental substance misuse where children have been removed from the family home due to the unacceptable risk this has caused. The Family Drug Treatment Court represents a fundamental shift in the way child protection matters are dealt with in the family division of the Children’s Court.

This panel presentation, featuring the Churchill Fellow and first Magistrate of the FDTC, the current Magistrate of the FDTC, and the Program Manager of the program will explore the design and development of the model, its implementation, and what has been found to work in this ground-breaking initiative (as well as what doesn’t).  Audience participation is encouraged and questions will be welcomed from the floor.


Elisa is a passionate advocate of humanising the justice system, and an avid explorer of best practice in health approaches to the criminal justice system.  She has managed Drug Courts in two Australian States and established the first Family Drug Treatment Court in the country.  She has presented extensively, both nationally and internationally on topics relates to solutions focused courts and is actively working on a world class education program for Victoria’s Drug Court.  She loves meeting new people and sharing her passions with others.

Crossing the Ethical Line in Problem-Solving Courts

Peggy Fulton Hora1

1 Superior Court of California (Ret.) PO Box 5246, Walnut Creek CA 94596

Canons of Ethics for judges and ethical rules for lawyers are based on an adversarial system.  Concepts such as a ban on ex parte communication are necessary and foundational in traditional courts but do they work in problem-solving courts?  If not, how do we assure that a litigant’s case is being handled fairly?  One of the hallmarks of problem-solving courts is the relationship and direct communication between the judge and a treatment court participant.  What are the dangers in such communications and how can we avoid them?

This presentation will rely on real-life ethical situations in which judges have acted outside their traditional role with critical consequences.  In the United States, drug court judges have been removed from office or forced to resign because of these breaches.  Some judges have been publicly reprimanded for their actions, however well intentioned, in problem-solving courts. We will examine the ethical rules, reasons for them and how, if in any way, they need to change for application in problem-solving courts.


Judge Hora spent over 20 years on the bench in California.  She is an international leader in the solution-focused courts movement and has written comprehensively on justice issues.  She was a 2009-2010 Thinker in Residence appointed by the Premier of South Australia to study and make recommendations on the Australian justice system.  She was a visiting scholar at the University of Tasmania School of Law.

Her international work includes speaking at conferences worldwide and hands-on training on drug courts and therapeutic jurisprudence in Israel, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Chile, Bermuda, South Africa, Italy, Pakistan, France, Japan, Russia, The Netherlands, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

She is a recipient of the Bernard S. Jefferson Judicial Education Award from the California Judges’ Association and winner of the Rose Bird Award from California Women Lawyers.  She was honored as Woman of the Year by the California legislature.

About provides delegate registration, website and app solutions, and financial management for conferences, conventions and scientific meetings.

Terms & Conditions

All registrations and bookings are subject to our standard term and conditions.

Contact Us

Please contact the team at with any questions regarding the conference.
© 2017 - 2020 Conference Design Pty Ltd. is a division of Conference Design Pty Ltd.