New Zealand Law Society - Conference to be held about future of drug courts

Conference to be held about future of drug courts

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A conference about the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts - Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua and their future in the criminal justice system, is being held early next year.

Researchers at the University of Auckland want to encourage informed, robust, conversations about the future shape, scope and operation of AODT.

Two pilot adult AODT Courts have been operating in Auckland and Waitākere since 2012. Their aims include to reduce reoffending rates, and consumption and dependency on alcohol and other drugs. They are based on a United States model, which has been enhanced to reflect the New Zealand context.

Following the initial pilot, the Minister of Justice, Andrew Little, expressed his support for the expansion of the AODT Courts across Aotearoa with a decision on permanent investment due next year after the results of an evaluation.

The Future Directions of Aotearoa’s AODT Courts Conference will bring together local and international experts with policy makers, the judiciary, the legal profession, police, Corrections, the health and recovery communities, AODT Courts’ graduates, iwi, students and academics.

Judge Ema Aitken and Judge Lisa Tremewan (from the Auckland and Waitākere AODT Courts respectively) are jointly running the conference in partnership with the Auckland Law School. The conference on 24 and 25 January at the University of Auckland has been made possible through a Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation grant of 60 thousand dollars.

The Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation’s Philanthropic Advisor, Michelle Wanwimolruk says the conference will be an important contribution to the current public conversation about New Zealand’s criminal justice system.

“A conference is about the people and the connections that are sparked through meeting face-to-face. This conference will bring together people from all walks of life – people with lived experience of recovery and the criminal justice system, policy makers, Police, the judiciary, iwi, students and academics. As a grant-maker, we want to encourage more of these types of conversations and knowledge exchange that can lead to fundamental changes for New Zealand’s criminal justice system,” she says.

Next month the New Zealand Law Society's magazine LawTalk will feature an article of the AODT Court that operates at Waitākere District Court.