Legal Aid Queensland

Diversion and referral options

Go Search
Home
Home
Services
Legal information
Publications
Media centre
Careers
About us
Skip Navigation LinksHome > Legal information > The justice system > Diversion and referral options > Queensland Indigenous alcohol diversion program

Queensland Indigenous alcohol diversion program 

Legal Information

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.

Back to top

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if you

  • have been referred to the child safety program by the Department of Communities (Child Safety Services) and are unsure whether you should agree to participate in the program
  • want help to be referred to the criminal justice program as part of your bail 
  • have committed further offences while on bail (whether or not you finished the program)
  • have questions about child protection orders.
Back to top

Where can I get legal advice

Legal Aid Queensland may provide legal advice about the Queensland Indigenous alcohol diversion program.

The following organisations may also be able to give legal advice on your matter.

Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to see if they can help with your matter.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice or representation.

Back to top

Who else can help?

These organisations are all involved in the Queensland Indigenous alcohol diversion program and may also be able to assist with your matter. They do not provide legal advice.

Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services is the organisation that investigates reports of harm or suspected child abuse against any child under 18. They investigate complaints and may provide ongoing services to the child or any person that cares for the child.

Department of Justice and Attorney-General is the government agency responsible for administering justice in Queensland.

Department of Housing and Public Works has a range of Indigenous housing and homelessness services to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to find secure and affordable housing.

Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning offers a range of services including assistance with job opportunities and training.

Department of Premier and Cabinet provides policy advice to the Premier and Cabinet. The department's functions include ensuring community members are involved in decision making, and communicating the government's key messages and priorities to the community.

Queensland Health provide a range of integrated services including public health programs, and community and mental health services.

Queensland Police Service provide policing and community service to ensure the safety of Queenslanders.

Queensland Corrective Services operate correctional centres, district offices and reporting centres, providing supervision, education and training to support offenders to reintegrate into society once they are released.

Department of Treasury and Trade provides economic and financial policy advice to the Queensland government, as well as services to the community.

Back to top

Disclaimer - Copyright © 1997 Legal Aid Queensland. This content is provided as an information source only and is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should seek legal advice from a lawyer. Legal Aid Queensland believes the information is accurate as at 1 July 2007 but accepts no responsibility for any errors or omissions and denies all liability for any expenses, losses, damages and costs you might incur due to the information being inaccurate or incomplete in any way.



Last modified: 17 April 2014 2:27PM
Page Contact:

Copyright | Disclaimer | Privacy | Access keys | Other languages
© Legal Aid Queensland 2006

Queensland Indigenous alcohol diversion program