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Future Directions of Treatment Courts Conference

Future Directions of Aotearoa’s Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts Conference

Researchers at the University of Auckland, with the support of the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation, are hosting a conference to encourage informed, robust, conversations about the future shape, scope and operation of the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Courts – Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua, based on the premise that solutions-focussed courts are an important part of criminal justice system reform in New Zealand.

The Future Directions of Aotearoa’s AODT Courts Conference will bring together local and international experts with policy makers, the judiciary, the legal profession, police, Corrections, the health and recovery communities, AODT Courts’ graduates, iwi, students and academics.

Dr Katherine Doolin and Dr Fleur Te Aho from the Auckland Law School have secured a generous $60,000 grant from one of New Zealand’s newest philanthropic organisations - the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation for the two-day conference, which will take place on 24 and 25 January 2019 at the University of Auckland.

Judge Ema Aitken and Judge Lisa Tremewan (from the Auckland and Waitākere AODT Courts respectively) are jointly running the conference in partnership with the Auckland Law School.

Two pilot adult AODT Courts have been operating in Auckland and Waitākere since 2012. Their aims include to reduce reoffending rates, and consumption and dependency on alcohol and other drugs. They are based on a United States model, which has been enhanced to reflect the New Zealand context.

Following the initial pilot, the Minister of Justice, the Honourable Andrew Little, has expressed his support for the expansion of the AODT Courts across Aotearoa with a decision on permanent investment due next year after the results of an evaluation. Now is a critical time to reflect on the strengths of these innovative solutions-oriented Courts within Aotearoa New Zealand, and to shape their future.

Topics to be explored during the conference include:
• the origins and evidence base of the AODT Court model;
• the innovations of the AODT Courts in Aotearoa New Zealand, including the role of the Pou Oranga (the AODT Courts’ tikanga cultural adviser and recovery role model) and engagement of peer support ‘alongsiders’;
• whether the current AODT Court model fulfils its therapeutic and restorative potential, including by appropriately responding to the specific needs of Māori, Pasifika, women, and families; and
• how the AODT Court model should be shaped going forward in order to remain robust and responsive to the communities it is designed to serve, including to better support the recovery and re-integration of participants who have completed the AODT Court programme.

The Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation is a philanthropic organisation that was created through a generous $38 million bequest from the late Judge Ian Borrin. The Foundation supports legal research, education, and scholarship that will have a significant and enduring impact on the lives of New Zealanders.

Michelle Wanwimolruk, the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation’s Philanthropic Advisor, believes the conference will be an important contribution to the current public conversation about New Zealand’s criminal justice system.

“A conference is about the people and the connections that are sparked through meeting face-to-face. This conference will bring together people from all walks of life – people with lived experience of recovery and the criminal justice system, policy makers, Police, the judiciary, iwi, students and academics. As a grant-maker, we want to encourage more of these types of conversations and knowledge exchange that can lead to fundamental changes for New Zealand’s criminal justice system,” she says.


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