New court program to help reduce 'cost of crime'
IPSWICH is among the first cities in Queensland to operate the Court Link program, a new initiative designed to address and overcome the underlying causes of offending.
Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said the program was based on individual case management and monitoring.
"The cost of crime impacts significantly on the criminal justice system and community, both socially and economically. These impacts are further exacerbated when defendants continue to re-offend," she 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. "Diversionary programs such as Court Link aim to do just that.
"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 is regularly monitored by the court." Court Link has been operating in Brisbane since November 2017 and in Cairns since June.
Court Link is a bail-based court assessment, referral and support program that aims to address the underlying contributors to offending behaviour through targeted case management and judicial monitoring of defendants. The underlying factors include homelessness, employment, drugs and alcohol and other social needs.
The Court Link program was established in response to recommendations in the 2016 Queensland Drug and Specialist Courts Review, which was commissioned to develop options for the reinstatement of a drug court in Queensland and the development of an over-arching framework for Queensland's specialist courts and court programs.
A feature of the program is the judicial monitoring by a magistrate, who 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.
Member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard said the program would benefit the Ipswich 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," Ms Howard said.
"We need to ensure that those who 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 Ipswich will be connected with local treatment and support services. This means the participants will get help sooner rather than later."
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.
Further information on how to make a referral to Court Link can be found at https://www.courts.qld.gov.au/services/court-programs/court-link.