Effective Drug Court Initiatives

21 Aug 2018

2017 Churchill Fellow Cherise Donovan is the Officer in Charge for Corrections Victoria at the Dandenong Drug Court in Victoria who manages a team of Case Managers supervising High-risk offenders on Drug Treatment Orders to address their offending behavior underpinned by the Therapeutic Jurisprudence theory. 


Cherise in the Vancouver back streets amongst the Fentanyl Drug Crisis


In late May 2018, Cherise began her 7.5-week international adventure to investigate and research effective Drug Court initiatives. 

Cherise commenced her travels in the US where Drug Courts were first established in 1989, where there are now over 4,000 Drug Courts in existence. Her first stop was Houston, Texas to participate in the world’s largest conference for Drug Courts run by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP).

"The four-day conference set the scene for my Fellowship, providing me with an awe-inspiring look at the grand scale of best practice trends, programs, services and innovation. Being amongst over 6,000 Drug Court professionals was a truly humbling experience as I tried to absorb as much content as possible," Cherise said. 

Moving onto San Francisco, Cherise met with Judge Hora and Judge Fleming and the dedicated team at the San Francisco Drug Court who took the time to explain their model, programs and treatments on offer to reduce the rate of re-offending rates by targeting appropriate treatment needs. 

In Vancouver and Toronto (Canada), Cherise had the privilege of meetings with Judge Dhillon, Judge Hogan, Judge Clark and all of their teams, who outlined that the core reasons for the effectiveness of their Drug Treatment Court was their close collaboration between the Court and treatment systems, ensuring each Drug Court Participant is engaged in intensive and structured outpatient services to rehabilitate and reintegrate them into the community. 

In Dublin, Ireland Cherise was lucky enough to observe the weekly Court session of the Dublin Drug Treatment Court led by Judge Ryan and visited the Parnell Adult Learning Centre, where engaging participants in education and training is a core aspect of their program. 

Her final destination was New Zealand where she had the pleasure of being welcomed by the Waitakere and Auckland Alcohol and Drug Treatment Court and spending time with their team of collaborative professionals led by Judge Tremewan and Judge Aitken.

"The cultural wrap-around support that is provided in the New Zealand program was both moving and emotional to an outside observer like me," Cherise exclaimed, "and I am eager to share all my observations, learnings and networking contacts with my fellow Drug Court colleagues, not only within Australia but internationally." 

"To be provided with this opportunity through the Churchill Fellowship was a truly life-changing experience, to which I will be forever indebted. I am also extremely grateful to all the hardworking and dedicated Drug Court professionals across the world who took time out of their busy schedules to meet with me and share their learnings. I truly believe I have made lifelong networks and I look forward to one day returning the favour should they venture to Australia," Cherise said. 

Look out for Cherise’s full Fellowship Report to be published shortly. 


Cherise with Judge Tremewan at Auckland Alcohol and Drug Treatment Court



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