Trust is a major factor in Therapeutic Justice Program’s success

man with back to cameraJames (not his real name) is a young Aboriginal man that presented at the Shepparton Magistrates’ Courts, substance affected, admitting to using alcohol and methamphetamine.

He was referred to our Therapeutic Justice Project via the Family Violence Court Liaison Officer of Victoria Police at the Tuesday morning Family Violence Meeting. The police applied for an Intervention Order against him to protect his family and charged him with assault.

James’ legal issues were compounding his stress levels and escalating his substance use. He was homeless as he was excluded from the family home. He didn’t know what to do next. The situation was distressing, particularly because he was close to his family and assisted in the day-to-day running of the household and taking care of his younger siblings. However, substance abuse was an issue that he was not tackling on his own, as his family members also have alcohol abuse issues.

James recognised the issues related to his alcohol use and was determined to address them, however he initially didn’t want to connect with the services provided by the local Aboriginal community as he was disheartened from previous experiences and was feeling ashamed. His parents came from two different clans and he found it difficult to connect with the local community.

After completing intake and assessment with our Therapeutic Justice Case Manager, a Resolve Plan was developed to address his offending behaviour. A referral was made for drug and alcohol services.

James had a positive experience with the first connection that was made and this built his trust in our Therapeutic Justice team. Following this, James connected with the Aboriginal Pathways Worker at Primary Care Connect. He had another positive experience, which resulted in a re-connection with the services provided by the local Aboriginal community. James’ family members observed this positive relationship and they also connected with the Therapeutic Justice Project and the Aboriginal Health Service. His family were experiencing poor health and low-life expectancy. This connection has dramatically assisted his parent’s lives, allowing them to connect to other services with respect to unresolved grief and loss due to a high number of deaths in the family.

James and his father also decided to attend the Mens’ Group every Friday for their spiritual and cultural well-being.

It was identified that this was a valuable connection as his legal matters at court concluded with James being placed on a Community Corrections Order. He was able to continue his engagement with existing services and he was able to commence his community work with the Men’s Group, strengthening his relationship with his father and the community.

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