Responding to the growing complexity of forensic clients with AOD concerns in the community

Ms Sophie Aitken1, Ms Skye Mackay1
1Caraniche, Melbourne, Australia

This presentation examines the development of the KickStart therapeutic group program targeting substance-related health concerns and criminogenic needs of moderate to high risk male community-based offenders. Reforms to sentencing, in combination with changes in drug use patterns, have given rise to significant growth in community corrections offender numbers, including those who require specialist and relatively intensive treatment interventions. While specialised criminogenic AOD programs are available in prison, prior to the development of KickStart there were no group-based AOD programs available for this group in the community.

Results from the KickStart Program indicated that at program completion, participants demonstrated greater awareness and understanding of their feelings and how these related to their offending behaviour and were more prepared to discuss emotional regulation, mental health and goal setting.  Participants also showed reductions in their order breach rate (from 25% at commencement to under 10%) and in urinanalysis breaches (from 30% to 15%). Participants also reported significant improvements in their physical health, psychological health, and social relationships over the course of their involvement in the program.


Sophie Aitken has a diverse range of experience in public, private, academic and not-for-profit sectors in roles spanning psychology, research & evaluation, policy and program development, implementation and consultancy. She has extensive experience with forensic clients in community based corrections and as a forensic psychologist, as well as working in early intervention in family services. She has provided consultancy support to agencies interested in implementing evidence-based practices and conducting program evaluations.

Skye is a psychologist with more than 10 years experience with Caraniche working as a registered psychologist and supervisor.  Skye has provided AOD group and individual treatment with offenders in both the community and prison-based settings and has experience in counselling and assessment in a range of issues.  Skye was the senior clinician at the Melbourne Assessment Prison, providing AOD treatment to remanded prisoners and ensuring all prisoners entering the prison received both prison related, and release related, harm information.  Skye is the manager of the Behaviour Change programs team, overseeing the delivery of group treatment on behalf of Corrections Victoria across the state.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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