Source: (2009) Australia and New Zealand Critical Criminology Conference 2009: Conference Proceedings. Pg. 31-40.

This paper grapples with the challenges of introducing features of specialty courts into the mainstream criminal justice system. Specialty courts were first introduced in Australia in the late 1990s, in recognition of the fact that the social problems which may have contributed to an offender’s behaviour may require social, rather than legal, solutions. There are currently a number of specialty court and diversion programs in place in Australia. In most cases, however, these programs only deal with a small minority of offenders. In particular, specialty court programs such as resource-intensive drug courts tend to be focused in metropolitan areas and access is therefore restricted to urban offenders. Regional and rural offenders may face further disadvantage due to the comparative lack of appropriate services provided locally. Mainstreaming aspects of specialty court programs may promote more equal access to court innovations for a greater proportion of offenders. This paper examines three challenges associated with attempts at mainstreaming, namely: promoting equity, resource issues and the role of the judicial officer. Generic court intervention programs, such as the Victorian Court Integrated Services Program, will be considered, and the need for cohesive policies on the future of problem-oriented justice examined. (Authors abstract).