Innovative court program begins in Cairns
Published Monday, 25 June, 2018 at 12:00 PM
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath
Cairns has become the first centre outside Brisbane to operate the Court Link program, a new initiative designed to address and overcome the underlying causes of offending.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath lauded the program, which is based on individual case management and monitoring, after it was officially launched in the Far North today.
Court Link has been operating in Brisbane since last November, with encouraging results.
“We are absolutely committed to understanding the reasons why people are offending and addressing those reasons with actions,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“Court Link is an innovative program that sees professionally qualified court officers provide tailored case management support to individuals on bail.
“The program generally runs for 12 weeks and each participant’s engagement with Court Link case management is regularly monitored by the court.”
A feature of the program is that dedicated magistrates are assigned to the court, which sits twice a month to review offenders’ files.
The magistrate oversees the participant’s progress, provides guidance and encourages the participant towards their case plan goals.
People can participate in Court Link if they are before the Magistrates Court charged with any criminal offence, regardless of whether they will plead guilty or not guilty, but must be eligible for bail.
Participants may have issues associated with a physical or mental disability, drugs and/or alcohol, homelessness, and inadequate social, family and economic support.
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the program would benefit the Cairns community by helping local participants connect with services to address the underlying causes of their offending.
‘We know that there are many issues that may contribute to an individual’s offending,’ Mr Healy said.
‘We need to ensure that those that are experiencing issues that may contribute to their offending, are supported in addressing these issues while they are on bail awaiting trial.’
‘For some, the first time they receive treatment or support will be through the Court Link program.’
‘People participating in Cairns will be connected with local treatment and support services and will mean these people get help sooner rather than later,’ Mr Healy said.
Professionally qualified Court Link officers assess the risks and needs of each referred person to determine the nature, intensity and frequency of support they require.
This support comes in the form of individual case management and connecting them with treatment and support services to address housing, employment, drug and alcohol, health and other social needs.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said if an individual fails to engage meaningfully in the program, they may be removed from it.
“Court Link is a therapeutic approach which aims to maximise a person’s participation in the program,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“One of the best ways of keeping the community safe is by addressing the underlying causes of offending and preventing people from re-offending.”
Further information on how to make a referral to Court Link can be found at www.courts.qld.gov.au/court-link
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