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Queensland Drug and Alcohol Court (QDAC)

Assessment criteria

For legal aid to be granted for representation in QDAC the following tests must be satisfied:

  • the applicant is subject to a QDAC Treatment Order

Documentary requirements

Application received from client

Applicants seeking a grant of legal assistance should forward all of the following documents for assessment:

  • a completed and signed Legal Aid Queensland (LAQ) application form

  • a copy of the QDAC treatment order 

Application received from in-house drug and alcohol court practitioners

In-house practitioners seeking a grant of legal assistance should electronically lodge an application or extension of aid request via the grants online system and ensure a signed application for aid is held on file.

Interpretation

QDAC Treatment Order

Once a participant has been sentenced to a QDAC Treatment Order, LAQ in-house practitioners from the Drug and Alcohol Court Team will represent the participant for the duration of that order. There is no requirement for applicants to meet means, merit or guideline tests if they have been sentenced to a QDAC order.

Grants of legal assistance may also be available in QDAC prior to sentence if the applicant for aid meets the standard criteria applied to a plea of guilty in the magistrates court or committal proceedings. Requests relating to additional charges laid during the operational period of a QDAC order are also subject to standard eligibility criteria.

QDAC model

The QDAC model was developed in response to recommendations made by the Drug and Specialist Court Review and will operate under the following model:

  • Adult offenders will be sentenced to a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Order, which includes a term of imprisonment of up to four years wholly suspended while they participate in intensive treatment and strict supervision for two years.
  • Accommodation support and job skilling.
  • Treatment and case plans delivered by accredited providers that also address other criminogenic needs.
  • Manageable caseloads to ensure quality case management of the offender (QDAC has a limited capacity of 125 participants).
  • Frequent and random mandatory drug testing that informs the court about an offender’s progress in treatment.
  • Attendance by the drug and alcohol court review team and offender at regular court hearings.
  • Use of rewards and sanctions delivered in a swift and certain manner to encourage or correct an offender.
  • Supervision and treatment program run over three distinct phases: stabilisation, rehabilitation, and reintegration and relapse prevention.

 Court process related to the operation of QDAC are outlined in the Magistrates Courts Practice Direction No.1 of 2018.

Eligibility

To be eligible to be referred to QDAC the defendant must meet the following criteria:

  • is an adult who can be sentenced under the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992;
  • intend to plead guilty or have entered a plea of guilty;
  • be charged with a summary offence or indictable offence that may be dealt with summarily including pursuant to section 13A Drugs Misuse Act 1986;
  • reside within the District of the Brisbane Magistrates Court (including all Divisions);
  • disclose they have serious drug or alcohol issues which has contributed to their offending behaviour;
  • is likely to be sentenced to a period of imprisonment of up to four years;
  • is not serving a term of imprisonment in a corrective services facility;
  • is not subject to a parole order;
  • is not subject to a cancelled parole order and required to serve an unexpired period of imprisonment; and
  • is not charged with a sexual assault offence

District of the Brisbane Magistrates Court (including all Divisions)

For a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Order to be made, a person must reside within the district of the Brisbane Magistrates Court as prescribed in Justices Regulation 2014 (Schedule 1). The divisions of the Brisbane Magistrates Courts District are Central division, Holland Park division, Richlands division, Sandgate division and Wynnum division

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QDAC Referrals

Referral to QDAC requires the defendant's consent and can be made by the following:

  • the defendant
  • duty lawyer or defendant's legal representative
  • mental health liaison officer
  • Queensland Police Service
  • Queensland Integrated Court Referral (QICR) Coordinator
  • Court Link Case Manager
  • Family members or friend of defendant
  • Treatment or support service providers (Government and non-Government)
  • A presiding Magistrate

The referrer is required to conduct a preliminary screening by completing Referral Form (Form 1) and provide copies to the Court, Prosecution and the defendant's legal representative.

If the Court considers that the defendant may be eligible for referral, the Magistrate will adjourn the matter to QDAC for an eligibility hearing and refer the defendant for eligibility screening to the review team (Queensland Courts, Queensland Corrective Services, Queensland Health, Queensland Police, and Legal Aid Queensland).

Allocation of a solicitor

Practitioners from LAQ’s drug and alcohol court team will represent all participants sentenced to a QDAC Treatment Order for the period of that order (2 years).

As QDAC is a post-sentence court there is no requirement for conflict of interest checking.

Grant(s) of aid

The grant of aid to prepare for and attend up to 10 review hearings is DAC3.

The grant of aid to prepare for and attend up to 5 breach hearings is DAC4.

The grant of aid to prepare for and attend a final hearing / graduation is DAC6.

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