Evaluation of ACT drug diversion programs leads to law change and research prize

April 2015

An evaluation of the impact of drug diversion programs in the ACT which led to a number of reforms to the ACT Police and Court diversion systems has won lead researcher Dr Caitlin Hughes NDARC’s 2015 Kevin Rozzoli Community Impact Award.

In 2012 ACT Health commissioned NDARC’s Drug Policy Modelling Program to evaluate the five different programs of the ACT alcohol and other drug diversion system.

The evaluation identified many strengths of the ACT diversion system, including a breadth of diversionary options, a high rate of referrals and treatment assessment and completion for most programs and the adaptability of the system/system players to perceived gaps/needs. But it also identified opportunities for improvement, including the need for clearer direction for the system, instances of program creep/resource wastage and that a number of sub-groups of AOD offenders were being excluded from the diversion system.

In October 2014 the ACT Attorney General announced reforms to the ACT police and court diversion system, including the development of a new ACT Police and Court Drug Diversion Strategy and prioritising space for AOD assessments of drug and drug-related offenders in the courts.

A copy of the report can be found here.

Other researchers honoured in NDARC’s annual awards were PhD student Kari Lancaster who won the  ‘Jennifer McLaren Award for Outstanding Research Achievement’ and Senior Research Fellow Dr Delyse Hutchinson who won the 'Ian Webster Award for Outstanding Research Achievement.