Counselling and Psychological Treatment
Counselling may be an option for you if you wish to get help in overcoming your drug problem. It can also be helpful in obtaining a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order as it will show to the court that you have taken steps to resolve your issues to ensure that you don’t reoffend. In many cases, a counsellor or psychologist can provide a report to the court outlining your issues and how they can be treated or resolved.
The type of counselling or treatment provided will depend upon the individual specialty of the counsellor or psychologist. It is a good idea to find out what counselling will involve before undertaking it to see what works best for you.
Many community organisations such as the Salvation Army provide free counselling services. Alternatively, if you wish to see a psychologist, you will need to see your GP to determine whether you are suitable for the Medicare Mental Health Plan. This will allow you to claim a Medicare rebate on up to 10 psychology sessions per year, so that you won’t be left out of pocket.
If you want to see a psychologist, you will also need a referral from your GP. Your GP may give you a general referral, meaning that you will be able to choose which psychologist you see, or they may be able to recommend a suitable psychologist for you.
So, take the first step towards getting help and see a counsellor or psychologist. By taking positive action to resolve your issues, the court is more likely to award you a lenient penalty!
Some contact details for counselling services and psychologists are listed below:
Salvation Army Counselling
: 02 9743 2831
: 02 4731 1554
: 02 4731 1554
- Batemans Bay and Ulladulla
: 02 6248 5504
You can make an appointment on their website at http://salvoscounselling.salvos.org.au/
Wesley Mission Psychological Services
: 02 8922 9020
: 02 9263 5577
: 02 4725 2747
Sydney Women’s Counselling Service
: 02 9718 1955
Phone: 0425 313 440
Address: Suite 17, 3rd Floor, 81-91 Military Road, Neutral Bay 2089
Phone: 02 9553 8099
Fax: 02 9553 8099
Address: 4/40-42 Montgomery St, Kogarah NSW 2217
Phone: 02 6021 0012
Fax: 02 6021 0011
Address: 452 Swift Street, Albury NSW 2640
Phone: 0413 233963
Email: info@AmicusCounselling.com.au OR firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: Suite 701, Level 7, 105 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: 0414 457 638
Fax: 9386 5251
Address: Suite 41 6/185 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000
Phone: 6362 3511
Address: 125 Prince Street, Orange 2800
Phone: (03) 9909 7191
Fax: (03) 8692 0515
Email: email@example.com (assistant)
Address: Level 1, 299 Elizabeth Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: 02 9223 1193
Fax: 02 9235 0887
Address: Suite 74, 183 Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000
In some circumstances, it might be in your best interest to enter a plea of guilty to the charge as soon as possible. This is because the court will award you a ‘discount’ on your sentence for an early guilty plea.
Remember, it’s always a good idea to speak to an experienced lawyer before entering a guilty plea. They will have the knowledge and expertise to advise whether you are able to fight the charge or get the charges dropped, which is always better than receiving a penalty.
A ‘discount’ means that you may receive a shorter sentence or lesser penalty by pleading guilty at an early stage. For example, if you are fined $1000, you may only end up paying $750 if you enter an early guilty plea.
Discounts can be awarded for a wide range of penalties including good behaviour bonds, fines, imprisonment and community service orders.
The main reason why courts award a discount is to encourage offenders to proceed straight to sentencing. This shows the court that you have accepted responsibility for your actions at an early stage rather than waiting for your guilt to be determined at a trial, and that you are willing to ‘facilitate the course of justice.’
Entering an early guilty plea also means that you will not need a trial, which can be very costly and time-consuming. By offering a discount, courts reward offenders for saving the time and expense that a trial involves.
The “discount” will generally be in the range of 10-25 percent, depending on how early you enter the plea. The earlier you enter a guilty plea, the greater the discount you are likely to receive.
Not always. Whether or not you receive a discount will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case. In some cases, the offence may be so serious that no discount will be given.
MERIT Drug Program
MERIT stands for ‘Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment.’ It is a program run by the courts to break the cycle of drug use and drug-related offending by assisting people in getting treatment and rehabilitation.
MERIT is a great first step in getting treatment for your drug problems. By addressing your issues, you can reduce your chances of reoffending and get your life back on track.
MERIT may also help you get a more lenient sentence – once you have completed the program, the Magistrate will receive a report on your progress. The report might also specify any further treatment programs which may assist you in your rehabilitation. In many cases the successful completion of the MERIT program will be taken into consideration by the court and may result in you getting a more lenient sentence, such as a section 10 dismissal.
The MERIT program will be tailored to your personal circumstances. In some situations the program may require you to ‘detox,’ while in other cases you may require treatment using methadone or other suitable treatments. You may also be required to attend rehabilitation and counselling.
The program will also require you to consider the harmful effects of drugs and reflect upon your drug use and why you want to change your habits.
To be eligible for the MERIT program, you must:
- Be over the age of 18;
- Have a history of drug abuse or problems;
- Be charged with a drug-related offence;
- Live work in the catchment area for the program;
- Provide consent to enter the program;
- Have your entry to the program approved by the Magistrate.
You won’t be eligible to enter the program where you are:
- Charged with a strictly indictable offence;
- Charged with a sexual assault offence or an offence involving serious violence;
- In custody (unless you are eligible for MERIT bail).
There are many ways to enter the MERIT program. Referrals can be made by the following people:
- Police, at the time of your arrest;
- Probation and Parole Service
- Your lawyer;
- Your family;
To get involved in the program, visit our webpage on MERIT locations and contact your nearest Local Health District office.
If you agree to undertake MERIT and don’t comply, your MERIT caseworker will report back to the Magistrate and there is a strong possibility that the Magistrate will remove you from the program.
If you don’t qualify for MERIT, you may still want to seek treatment for your drug problems through rehabilitation. This may help you get a more lenient sentence as it will show the court that you have taken action to address your drug problems. A case worker at the rehab clinic will generally write a report to the court about your progress in the rehab program, which may be taken into account by the court.
There are usually two types of rehabilitation options – residential rehabilitation requires you to live at the rehab centre for a period of time, while non-residential rehab does not require you to live away from home, but still requires you to participate in rehab programs on a regular basis.
If you are considering rehabilitation, it is advisable to contact the clinic as soon as possible to arrange an assessment as the waiting period for rehab clinics is generally 4-6 weeks.
The assessment process for each rehab clinic is different, but usually most require an initial phone assessment. During the phone assessment a case worker will ask some questions to determine whether you will be suitable for that rehab program. You can take the first step towards rehabilitation by contacting a rehab and requesting a phone assessment.
There are many different rehab clinics all over Sydney – which one is suitable for you will depend on your personal situation. Some contact details and information for various rehabs are listed below.
Odyssey House offers a residential rehabilitation where patients live on-site at the centre in Eagle Vale in Sydney’s south west. The program offers various treatments, including detoxification, counselling, group therapy and psychological and psychiatric services. Patients also participate in drug education programs, and develop skills by assisting with cooking, cleaning, gardening and so on. The centre also offers a ‘Parents and Children’s Program’ which allows children to live at the facility with their parents who are undertaking treatment. The facility also provides after-care services to ensure that patients stay on track once they have left the program.
- Admissions and Intake: 02 9281 5144
SALVATION ARMY BRIDGE PROGRAM
The Salvation Army BRIDGE program is a residential rehabilitation program which lasts from 8-10 months. The program is based on the 12-step program, and also involves group work, spiritual awareness, detoxification support and gives you the opportunity to engage in vocational training while undertaking the program. BRIDGE offers support to family and friends of patients undertaking rehab and will help them to assist you when you exit the program. BRIDGE operates in several locations:
- Blue Mountains Recovery Services Centre – Ph 02 4782 7392
- Lake Macquarie Recovery Services Centre – Ph 02 4973 1495
- Newcastle Bridge and Youth Program – Ph 02 4961 1257
- William Booth House – Ph 02 9212 2322
Specialist Drug Lawyer
If you have been charged with possession or supply of a drug, now is the time to get a specialist drug lawyer on your side.
We have the knowledge and experience to assist you in obtaining the best possible outcome. In many serious drug cases, we have been able to get charges withdrawn by proving that police have acted outside the law by conducting illegal searches.
We also have an excellent track record of obtaining non conviction orders for our clients, meaning that no conviction is recorded, sparing you the worry of whether a criminal record will affect your job prospects or travel plans.
We will support you through the whole process – from guiding you through the charges against you and advising you of your options, to helping you obtain character references and access counselling. If you end up going to court, rest assured that we will put forth your case to ensure that you get the best possible outcome.
If you’re looking for a firm that will give you the advice you need when other lawyers have let you down, call Sydney Drug Lawyers now to arrange a free first appointment.