Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court

What the AODT Court is about

Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua, the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Court operating out of the Auckland and Waitākere District Courts, is overseen by the judiciary and brings together iwi, government agencies, health service providers and the local community to better support an effective response to alcohol and other drug substance use disorders.

The AODT Court is an example of a specialist, solutions-focused approach that aims to deliver better outcomes and experiences for court participants with alcohol and other drug substance use disorders, victims, whānau and the wider community.

Development of the AODT Court 

The AODT Court began in 2012 as a pilot initiative within the Auckland and Waitākere District Courts. In June 2019, an Outcomes Evaluation found that participants who completed the programme experienced better relationships with whānau, improved health, and increased opportunities for training and mahi. Within two years after graduating from the Court, participants were less likely to offend, less likely to be in prison and less likely to be involved with Police services. Where subsequent offending occurred, it was likely to be less serious offending.

In 2019, Cabinet agreed to make the AODT Court in Auckland and Waitākere permanent.

In 2020, a dedicated multi-agency project team was set up to implement the Outcomes Evaluation report’s recommendations that will further strengthen the success of the AODT Court in Auckland and Waitākere District Courts. They are also working to establish a new AODT Court for the Waikato.

Further information about the AODT Court can be found in the following report:

AODT Court Outcomes Evaluation Report

Establishing the Waikato AODT Court 

Te Tāhū o te Ture - the Ministry of Justice is working with the judiciary, iwi, Ministry of Health, Ara Poutama Aotearoa - Department of Corrections, New Zealand Police and the Public Defence Service to establish Waikato AODT Court pathways that will deliver better outcomes and experiences for participants, victims, whānau and the wider community.

The Waikato AODT Court pathways will apply the learnings from the two Auckland-based AODT Court pilot sites, as well as learnings from other courts that apply solutions-focused and restorative approaches. These insights will be combined with evidence from international research and adapted to the Waikato context to ensure the Court aligns to best practice and is designed to meet the needs of the Waikato region’s communities.

Te Ao Mārama connection

The AODT Court is one of the projects that contribute to Te Ao Mārama – the future vision and operating model for the District Court: That the Court should be a place where all people can come to seek justice, no matter what their means or ability and regardless of their culture or ethnicity, who they are or where they are from.

Hamilton, where the Waikato AODT Court is being established, will also be one of two locations where Te Ao Mārama will be launched.

The principles of the Te Ao Mārama vision for the District Court guiding this project are:

  • improved access to justice
  • delivery of equitable treatment to all people
  • improved procedural fairness
  • improved outcomes (substantive fairness).

At a practical level, these principles will be applied to the AODT Court via the following aspects of the Court design:

  • Infusing Tikanga and Te Reo into Court processes and ensuring Kaupapa Māori values are integrated.
  • Improved information – including screening for addiction and information about whakapapa and needs.
  • Increased community involvement – building community presence in the Court, including available services.
  • Whānau involvement – increasing whānau participation by engaging with them in Court processes.
  • Active judging – reducing formalities in the courtroom and championing the use of Te Reo and plain language.
  • Consistent personnel – Consistency of presiding judge, legal representation and support service personnel.

The learnings from this project will help inform the establishment of specialist pathways for Court participants with alcohol and other drug substance use disorders elsewhere in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

It’s anticipated that the Waikato AODT Court will be operational from mid-2021.