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NSW Drug Court Program

The Adult Drug Court is a specialised court, operating under the Drug Court Act 1998 with the aim of breaking the cycle of drug dependency, criminal activity and imprisonment. The court targets drug-dependent adult offenders who are facing a custodial sentence and offers the option of drug treatment while on parole or probation.

The system works with close cooperation between the Ministry of Health, Justice Health and the Forensic Mental Health Network, three local health districts and a range of non-government organisations which assist in providing drug treatment including residential rehabilitation.


The MERIT program is a court based diversion program that allows arrested defendants with substance use problems to be assessed for suitability to undertake treatment and rehabilitation under bail conditions. As a result of that assessment, Magistrates can bail defendants to attend dedicated drug treatment services created through specific MERIT program funding.

As of 2017, MERIT is now available in 62 local courts across all fifteen local health districts.

To date over 28,700 adult offenders have entered the program since 2000, and almost 18,200 have successfully completed from the program.

For more information about the program and how to make referrals please visit Department of Justice

MERIT Priority Access Residential Rehabilitation Bed Allocation

NSW Health funds 20 non-government organisation (NGOs) sites to provide 47 priority access residential rehabilitation beds for MERIT clients. See below table for further information.

MERIT funded organisation name Contract Manager # Funded beds
The Buttery NNSWLHD2
Jarrah HouseSESLHD2
Kedesh Rehabilitation Services - IllawarraISLHD1
Lives Lived Well - WatershedISLHD1
Lives Lived Well - WylaWNSWLHD4
Namatjira HavenNNSWLHD2
Odyssey HouseSWSLHD3
​Odyssey House​WSLHD​1

Oolong House

Salvation Army - AdeleMNCLHD4
Salvation Army - Dooralong- MenMNCLHD2
Salvation Army - Dooralong- MenHNELHD2
Salvation Army-Dooralong -Women CCLHD2
Salvation Army -William BoothSESLHD1
The GlenCCLHD2
We Help Ourselves - GunyahSLHD4
We Help Ourselves - Hunter ValleyHNELHD4
We Help Ourselves - New BeginningsSLHD1
We Help Ourselves - RTOD/OSTARSLHD3
We Help Ourselves - WestNBMLHD1
Weigelli Aboriginal CorporationWNSWLHD1
Total 47
Current as at: Monday 31 October 2022