What is it?
This is a voluntary treatment program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people appearing in either the magistrates courts for alcohol related offences or the children's court for child protection matters where alcohol misuse plays a part. Participants will be referred to the program through the criminal justice or the child protection systems.
It is a three year trial program which involves a range of Queensland government departments and agencies including the Departments of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services, Justice and Attorney-General, Department of Housing and Public Works, Child Safety Services, Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Premier and Cabinet, Queensland Health, Queensland Police Service, Queensland Corrective Services and Queensland Treasury.
When did it start?
The pilot program started on 2 July 2007 in:
- Cairns (outreach service for Yarrabah)
- Townsville (outreach service for Palm Island)
- Rockhampton (outreach service for Woorabinda)
How does it work?
The program has two streams:
- child safety stream;
- criminal justice stream.
The child safety stream offers alcohol treatment and support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents involved in the child protection system. The program can last for up to 20 weeks (five months).
The number of places on the child safety stream at any one time are:
- Cairns - 8 treatment places
- Townsville - 10 treatment places
- Rockhampton - 8 treatment places
The criminal justice stream offers alcohol and drug treatment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people charged with criminal offences while they are on bail. The program also lasts for up to 20 weeks (five months) and operates as a bail-based diversionary program – you do not have to intend to plead guilty to take part in the program. The magistrate might make your bail conditional on you taking part in the program though.
The number of places on the criminal justice program at any one time are:
- Cairns - 32 treatment places
- Townsville - 40 treatment places
- Rockhampton - 32 treatment places
How can I get help from the child safety program?
You can be referred to the program through the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services case management process if you are a parent who needs help with your alcohol problem to protect your children. If you agree to take part in the program, this is noted in your Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services case plan and referred to the children's court magistrate for approval.
Talk to your case manager at the department about being referred.
To be eligible, you must be;
- Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander;
- involved in proceedings in the children's court about child protection orders or you have agreed to work together with the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services to protect and care for your child/ren;
- aged 18 or over (if you are 17 you may be eligible in limited circumstances); and
- using alcohol in a way that affects your ability to protect your child/ren from harm;
- suitable to participate in the program on the basis of information obtained during a clinical assessment and any other relevant factors (including, for example, whether the parent has a history of violence);
- you agree to take part in the program; and
- you are assessed by QIADP staff as suitable for treatment.
How can I get help from the criminal justice program?
Talk to your lawyer about how you can get referred to the program as part of your bail. It is up to the magistrate whether to refer you to the program.
To be eligible:
- you must be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander;
- you must be charged with a criminal offence that is capable of being dealt with summarily;
- you must be aged 17 or over;
- your alcohol use played a part in your offending;
- you are not charged with sexual or violent offences or have a criminal record for them (minor assault charges may not stop you getting on the program);
- you must be eligible for and suitable for bail;
- you must agree to be in the program;
- you are assessed by QIADP staff as suitable for treatment;
- the magistrate must agree to refer you.
What will the therapy/treatment be like?
The therapy or treatment is basically the same whether you are taking part in the child safety part or the criminal justice part of the program.
First you detox (if required) and then a team of professional people from different government or non-government organisations assess your issues and needs. They come up with an individual treatment plan that is right for you. This is all to help you deal with your alcohol or drug problem. You will also supervised regularly by QIADP team members, e.g. from Queensland Health.
If you are in the criminal justice stream part of the program, you will have to appear in court for a review of your progress from time to time.
If you are in the child safety stream part of the program, you will be case managed by the QIADP team and in particular their QIADP case manager in consultation with the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services.
Where would I live?
The program can organise you supported accommodation and/or residential rehabilitation if you need it, subject to availability. This might be at your home, or hospital, or a rehab. There is limited supply of supported accommodation available during the formal part of the program.
What happens if I finish the program?
If you are involved in the criminal justice stream, the court is given a report showing your achievements and you graduate from the program. If you decide to plead guilty to your offences, the magistrate will look at this report when he or she decides what kind of sentence to give you. Doing well on the program could help you at your sentencing.
If you are involved in the child safety stream your child safey case worker will be given this report. Graduating from the program does not mean that you get your child/ren back. The child safety officer will look at all the issues again to see if you are now able to safely care for your child/ren.
If you want to, you can also keep up your treatment after you graduate from the program. It does not matter which part of the program you have been involved in. There is an aftercare outreach service available offered through Queensland Health or non-government service providers.
What happens if I don't finish the child safety program?
The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services will re-evaluate whether you can protect your children.
What happens if I don't finish the criminal justice program?
As long as you have not committed another criminal offence your bail will not be affected just because you did not comply with the program or you didn't finish the program. If you have committed other offences the magistrate will decide whether or not to revoke (cancel) your bail.