At a community level, justice reinvestment is one approach that can be used to reduce harmful alcohol and drug use associated with an increased risk of imprisonment [36769][34873]. Justice reinvestment puts resources back into communities where there are high rates of incarceration, instead of police and prisons.  This strategy recognises the links between social disadvantage, risk factors such as alcohol and drug use and being imprisoned [30136]. By addressing the underlying causes for offences committed, the high rates of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be reduced [34873][35942].

Giving up harmful alcohol and other drug use can make a big difference in helping a person stay connected with their community and reconnect with individual goals. There are programs available to help prevent re-offending connected to alcohol and drug use, as well as services that support people while they are in prison and after release from prison.

Diversion programs

Programs aimed at diverting people away from the justice system when their offence is related to their alcohol and other drug use include:

  • drug courts
  • mental health courts
  • other court diversion programs that allow people to participate in rehabilitation [40403][30136].

Positive outcomes have been found for diversion programs including reduced alcohol and drug use.

Culturally adapted programs involving Elders or facilitators in addressing the concerns of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants have better results than mainstream programs [30136][22997].

Support services

Organisations such as the Community Restorative Centre (CRC) in New South Wales provide a range of services for people and their families who come into contact with the justice system. They can help with alcohol and other drug dependence as well as other issues. For people who are leaving prison, it is important they receive support to:

  • have their physical and mental health needs followed up in the community
  • find stable housing
  • develop skills to secure employment
  • help them reconnect with community.

Services such as ACSO  (Australian Community Support Organisation) provide a range of specialist alcohol and other drug programs and services in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, for people in contact or at risk of being in contact with the criminal justice system.

See Key resources on this page for more information on programs, resources and organisations to support people in contact with the justice system address alcohol and other drug use.


Key resources



Families coming together by Melanie Robinson

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