ACSO plays provides the assessment and referral pathway for people experiencing problematic drug use and who have contact or potential contact with the criminal justice system. ACSO assesses people’s ability to participate in the program, which aims at providing drug treatment to reduce offending behaviours and supports people to make significant changes in their lives.

  • On average, ACSO will assess and refer 21,000 Victorians into drug treatment each year.
  • Over 6,000 will be assessed in our DIVERSION PROGRAMS before any charges are laid. This gives people a big opportunity to turn their lives around much sooner
  • ACSO ensures that clients enter a range of community based drug treatment programs including counselling, detox, residential rehab and day programs across Victoria

“I am speechless and grateful for the assistance ACSO have provided, and for feeling excited about having the opportunity to turn things around”

ACSO has developed a joint partnership with the Melton Police Service Area who have identified a growing problem in relation to the use of crystal methylamphetamine (ICE).  Local police have observed that increasing use of this drug has resulted in an increase in volume crime offences including Burglary/Theft of and from motor vehicles and an increase in family violence incidents. 

In July 2014, Melton Police undertook a survey of offenders to capture the prevalence of ICE use. Results revealed that a number of offenders wanted treatment for their use but were unsure how to access it or had never considered this before. There was no process or capability for police to divert first time offenders into treatment when the use of ICE is driving their offending.  Delays in court appearance post arrest meant that the use of ICE and subsequent offending continued and often escalated. 

The Melton Ice Diversion Pilot recognised this problem as a health related matter and aimed to divert people away from the Criminal Justice System into drug treatment. This program has the following objectives;

    • Divert first-time offenders, whose non-violent offending behaviour is driven by their ICE use, into a drug treatment program. 
    • If treatment is successfully completed, and the offender has ceased offending, their charges will be dropped.
    • The client won’t have a criminal history and their risk of re-offending will hopefully reduce
    • Increases community safety
    • Reduced pressure on Courts and reduced public expenses associated with criminal proceedings and incarceration.

The pilot has been in operation since June 2015. So far 90% of people offered this diversion have taken up the opportunity to be involved in the program.

ACSO has partnered with Victoria Police to deliver the Alcohol Diversion Program to divert drunk recidivists into drug treatment. This program has the following objectives;

  • Divert people who have in excess of 7 arrests for Drunk in a Public Place or Drunk and Disorderly behaviour and who have accrued a significant amount of debts in unpaid infringements into alcohol and other drug treatment.
  • If treatment is successfully completed, and the offender has reduced their drinking and/or offending, their fines will be abolished or significantly reduced.
  • Link the client into appropriate service providers and support to address their broader health, education and vocational needs
  • Increases community safety
  • Assist the client to effectively re-engage in their community


The pilot has been in operation since April 2015. Police are reporting a reduction in the number of arrests, all the client’s have engaged in AOD treatment and the first participant is due to graduate in August 2015.


Our experienced Koori Drug Forensic Co-ordination project is integral to achieving a more co-ordinated response to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s access to the drug diversion system. The primary focus of this position is to coordinate and develop, in consultation with indigenous drug and alcohol treatment agencies, strategies that increase the effectiveness and access to drug, health and social services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients.  The project offers secondary consultation and liaison within ACSO and to the broader services system.

ACSO delivers an early intervention (prevention) program with young person’s over 12 years of age who have an intellectual disability and whose sexual behaviors are considered to be inappropriate. The aim of this service is develop the persons’ capacity to self manage their own thoughts, feelings and behaviors and to help them move forward in a safe environment developing new healthy sexual behaviours.

In partnership with housing Services, ACSO offers support and assistance for people who present at homelessness services with a range of complex problems including mental illness, intellectual disability/ABI and drug and alcohol issues and who who may also have past involvement in the criminal justice system or who are considered at risk of offending. This specialist case work is a flexible, goal-focused model of client support that employs a combination of roles ranging from case coordination, care planning, psycho-social support and transitional support through to outreach support, with the aim of diverting this client group away from the criminal justice system completely.

Our professional development and education programs build capacity for a range of other sectors that interface with criminal justice systems across Australia. We offer secondary consultation and training to mental health, drug treatment, housing, disability and justice services to be able to work with complex clients particularly those with criminal justice with dual disability (intellectual disability and mental health) or sex offending history.


icon_ourImpact.pngOur Impact

    • Over 7,000 people diverted in 2014/5 from the criminal justice system
    • Over 85% did not return to our programs

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