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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


Current as at: Tuesday 12 September 2017
Contact page owner: Centre for Population Health