Personalising the process: The Children’s Court Drug Court in Perth, WA

Suzanne Ellis

The Children’s Court Drug Court (CCDC) is a judicially managed treatment program for young offenders in Perth. It aims to address drug use by individualising the program to reduce drug use and drug related offending behaviours of those under 18. Addressing youth drug use is of importance as drug use and contact with the criminal justice system can act as snares into offending, leading to a continuation of these behaviours into adulthood (Moffitt, 1993; Moffitt et al. 2002). Semi-structured interviews were used to ascertain the experiences of participating young people (n=8) and their caregivers (n=8). Findings indicated that the CCDC experience gave young people hope and direction for life after the program while enabling them to remain in the community. While grateful for the support of the program, caregivers struggled to find their role in it, often deferring to the court for advice. The findings suggest that the CCDC’s judicial monitoring and focus on rehabilitation supports and guides young people and their caregivers. It assisted young people to make prosocial life choices and provided them with skills to assist them after program graduation. However, caregivers struggled in their role in the court.


Suzanne is a PhD candidate at Edith Cowan University (ECU). She worked for Police Scotland after graduating with first class honours in Criminology from Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland before emigrating to Australia and entering academia. She is the Coordinator for ECU’s Forensic Interview Team, which collects data for the Drug Use Monitoring Australia project on a quarterly basis and does one-off collections for other criminal justice research projects. Suzanne’s research interests include youth justice, drug and alcohol use among offenders and qualitative research methods.


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