​​​​​​​​​​ On this page

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 non-government organisation (NGOs) sites to provide priority access residential rehabilitation and withdrawal management beds for MERIT clients.

See below table for further information.

MERIT priority access residential rehabiliation (RR) and withdrawal management (WM) treatment bed list - current as of July 2022

MERIT funded organisation# RR Funded beds# WM Funded beds
The Buttery20
Calvary Riverina22
Jarrah House20
Kedesh Rehabilitation Services - Illawarra10
Lives Lived Well - Watershed10
Lives Lived Well - Wyla40
Namatjira Haven20
Odyssey House40
Oolong House20
Salvation Army - Adele50
Salvation Army - Dooralong (Men)​40
Salvation Army-Dooralong (Women) 20
Salvation Army - William Booth House10
St Vincent's dePaul - Freeman House32
The Glen20
We Help Ourselves - Goulburn20
We Help Ourselves - Gunyah40
We Help Ourselves - Hunter Valley40
We Help Ourselves - New Beginnings10
We Help Ourselves - RTOD/OSTAR30
We Help Ourselves - West10
Weigelli Aboriginal Corporation10


EDDI allows NSW Police to issue on the spot fines for low-level drug offences on two occasions. This is instead of a court attendance notice. The fine is resolved if penalty recipients pay the fine or speak to a nominated health professional.

EDDI aims to provide people with low-level drug offences support to understand the risks associated with their drug use. It also aims to increase court efficiencies by diverting people away from the courts. 

NSW Health fund St Vincent's Health Network to provide the statewide EDDI telephone counselling service.

Recipients of a fine who choose to complete the health intervention with the EDDI telephone counselling service will:

  • participate in screening for risks related to their drug use
  • be provided with feedback, information and education about their level of risk in relation to their drug use
  • participate in brief assessment and intervention with a focus on strategies for behaviour change
  • have the option of taking up referral for ongoing treatment and support
  • have the option to receive a follow-up phone call for additional support (recipients of a second fine only).

After the appointment, the EDDI telephone counselling service will report completion of the health intervention to Revenue NSW to allow the fine to be resolved, however no additional personal health information will be shared.

Current as at: Wednesday 28 February 2024