26 September 2023

Court programs helping to change lives

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Two innovative programs launched by the Department of Justice a decade ago have supported people coming before the courts with mental health issues, helping to turn their lives around.

The Start Court for adults, and Links in the Perth Children’s Court, have supported thousands of individuals over the past 10 years.

The programs are partnerships between the Department of Justice and the Mental Health Commission, with support from the Department of Health, service provider, Outcare and other Agencies.

Both provide critical services that address underlying causes of offending behaviour to assist individuals with improving their mental health and reducing the risk of further contact with the criminal justice system.

In a statement, the Department of Justice said Start Court was a voluntary program for offenders who entered a guilty plea, and combined access to support and services for mental health and drug and alcohol use, if required.

“Participants are helped by a team that includes a Magistrate, mental health clinicians, community support coordinators, peer support workers, lawyers, police and Adult Community Corrections personnel,” the statement said.

“At the Children’s Court, the Links team assesses and refers young people with mental health issues to community support and specialist services, providing access to treatment and consideration of alternative sentencing options.”

Attorney General, John Quigley said Start Court and Links were established after it was found traditional methods of sentencing had little impact on people with mental health conditions.

“There have been many success stories over the past decade of individuals being assisted to improve their mental health, quality of life and employment prospects,” Mr Quigley said.

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