Magistrates Early Referral into Treatment (MERIT)

Contact 02 9211 9277 for more details

The primary goal of the MERIT program is to break the substance abuse-crime cycle by involving defendants in treatment and rehabilitation.

MERIT is available to eligible defendants who appear at participating Local Courts. The program targets defendants with a demonstrable drug or alcohol problem who are eligible and suitable for release on bail and who are motivated to engage in treatment and rehabilitation.

Eligibility and Suitability Criteria

To be considered eligible for MERIT and/or Alcohol MERIT, where available, a defendant must:-

  • Be an adult
  • Be eligible for bail or not require bail consideration
  • Voluntarily agree to participate in MERIT
  • Have a treatable drug/alcohol problem for which there is appropriate treatment available

The MERIT program allows defendants to focus on treating their drug and alcohol problem in isolation from legal matters. Therefore, the program is designed so that agreement to become involved is not an admission of guilt for the offence(s) charged. Treatment is generally prior to any pleas being made with the adjournment of court matters until the completion of the program.

Types of sentences used after successful completion of MERIT vary but should reflect successful completion of MERIT and take into account any recommendations for further treatment.

Odyssey House is responsible for provision of the MERIT Program at Waverley Court, NSW.