The Mental Health Diversion Program deals with those people designated to be suffering from some form of mental impairment. Eligible individuals are adults who have been charged with certain minor or summary offences to be heard in the Magistrates Court of South Australia, and who have impaired intellectual or mental functioning arising from:
· mental illness
· intellectual disability
· a personality disorder
· acquired brain injury, or
· a neurological disorder including dementia.
A person can be referred to the Diversion Court by their solicitor. Once they are referred a preliminary report is prepared and given to the Magistrate who will then determine whether they are accepted onto the program.
The program allows people to have their matter adjourned for 6 months to allow them to voluntarily address their mental health and disability or offending behaviour. During this time, the program staff link the individual to relevant services in the community and monitor their progress.
The Magistrate will review a person’s compliance with the program every two months and reward compliance with the program and reinforce the need for treatment regimes and lifestyle changes.
At the final hearing the Magistrate makes a determination taking into account the participant’s involvement in the Program. Depending on the nature of the offences the Magistrate may dismiss the matter or convict without further penalty. If a person performs badly on the program it will not affect the final sentencing process.