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ACT Drug and Alcohol Court: Developing a program logic and evaluation framework

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Dr Marian Shanahan
Honorary Senior Lecturer
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Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Ph +61 2 9385 7841
Project Main Description: 

In 2016 the ACT committed to scoping and designing a Drug and Alcohol Court (DAC). The evidence-base indicates that drug and alcohol courts may have many benefits for participants and governments such as reducing recidivism, reducing dependence on alcohol and illicit drugs, and increasing social reintegration. However, drug and alcohol courts are resource intensive to implement and operate, and if poorly designed or implemented resources may be wasted, stakeholders dissatisfied, and target outcomes not achieved. The Drug Policy Modelling Program, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre was commissioned by the ACT Justice and Community Safety Directorate to aid program and system design for their new DAC.


This project sought to identify key program and system issues that need to be considered in developing the ACT Drug and Alcohol Court and to generate four program and system resources:

  • A system map of all agencies that will be involved in and/or affected by the DAC
  • A map of DAC offender flows through the ACT criminal justice system
  • A program logic for the DAC
  • An evaluation framework for the new DAC
Design and Method: 

This project used a systems approach, built on dialogue methods involving interviews and focus group discussions. Specifically, it brought together 32 stakeholders from the criminal justice system, the alcohol and other drug sector and other related sectors e.g. housing and human rights to discuss and obtain agreement about the goals and target groups of the new court and broader system issues.


A final report was provided to the ACT Department of Justice and Community Safety in November 2017: Hughes, C., Shanahan, M., Sotade, O. & Ritter, A. (2017). Towards a new ACT Drug and Alcohol Court: A program and systems perspective. Drug Policy Modelling Program, NDARC, UNSW Sydney. 

Please note, the report is currently under embargo.

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