A consultant to evaluate the Australian Capital Territory Drug Diversion Programs.

image - 1338942060 Act Map Square
Date Commenced:
Project Supporters:

ACT Health Directorate - Tender|2011.18305.210

Drug Type:
Project Members: 
image - Caitlin Hughes
Senior Lecturer
Ph 02 9385 0132
image - Marian Shanahan
Dr Marian Shanahan
Conjoint Senior Lecturer
Ms Florence Gray-Weale
Research Assistant
Project Main Description: 

Diversion has become one of the most utilised policy interventions in Australian government responses to drug users . The irony is that many key questions about optimal system design remain unknown: What ought ‘best practice’ diversion involve? And how can Governments improve the operation and outcomes of diversion programs?

Traditional means of evaluation have focused on programs themselves, rather than how programs intersect together, and factors outside individual programs that positively or negatively affect program inputs, outputs and outcomes. To overcome this deficit a systems approach will be adopted to examine drug diversion in the ACT. This project seeks to generate a thorough understanding of what is going on, to whom, at what costs, and the barriers and enablers to effective system provision.

Project Collaborators: External: 

David McDonald
Social Research & Evaluation Pty Ltd


This project sought to generate a thorough understanding of the ACT's diversion programs by examining what is going on, to whom, at what costs, and to identify the barriers and enablers to effective system provision.

Design and Method: 

This project useda systems approach, built on dialogue methods. Key to this was the use of three roundtables that brought together 24 stakeholders from different parts of the ACT AOD diversion system to produce a conceptual map of how the 5 programs intersect (including offenders/client flows through the system), to identify facilitators and barriers to effective system operation, and to identify strategies for improvement. The insights from the roundtables were supplemented by the collation of indicator data, resource assessment of the fixed and variable costs for the programs and the development of a robust evaluation plan to enable rigorous assessment of the implementation, outputs and outcomes into the future.


Findings have been made available to the project funding body. The final report was published October 2014.


Hughes CE; Shanahan M; Ritter A; McDonald D; Gray-Weale F, 2014, Monograph No. 25: Evaluation of the ACT drug diversion programs, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Sydney, DPMP Monograph Series.


This project should enable the ACT to make informed policy decisions about what policy levers to pull (and which to avoid) so as to foster the improvement of the ACT AOD diversion system.

Project Research Area: 
Drug Type: 
Project Status: 
Year Completed: