MERIT Program


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If you’ve been charged with a drug offence, you may want to consider the MERIT Program. “MERIT” stands for “Magistrates Early Referral into Treatment” and is a program run by the courts to try and help people break the cycle of drug addiction and offending.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for MERIT, you must:

  • Be an adult who is eligible for bail
  • Voluntarily agree to participate in the Program
  • Not be charged with a sexual offence or a strictly indictable offence, which are serious offences that can only be dealt with by the District or Supreme courts.

What does MERIT involve?

If you are accepted into MERIT, a treatment plan will be made which is tailored to your needs. Based on your circumstances, you might have to undergo detoxification, rehabilitation, counselling and so on. You’ll also have to undergo regular urine tests to test for drug use.

If you’re accepted into MERIT, you will be granted bail to participate in the program. This means that you’ll have to abide by any bail conditions that are imposed on you by the court – for example, you will have to be of good behaviour, and you will have to go back to court as requested by the magistrate. If you fail to abide by your bail conditions, you may be removed from the MERIT program and proceed straight to sentencing.

How can it help me get a lesser penalty?
Once you complete the MERIT program, you will most likely go back to court to be sentenced. The magistrate hearing your case will usually receive a report from your MERIT case worker, which details how you have progressed through the program in overcoming your drug addiction. If you’ve made a positive effort to engage in the program, that will be taken into account by the magistrate, who may give you a more lenient penalty.

MERIT Program Locations

The following Local Courts participate in the MERIT Program:

MERIT LOCATION MERIT – LOCAL HEALTH DISTRICT MERIT PHONE MERIT FAX
Albion Park Illawarra Shoalhaven MERIT  4254 2700 4254 2771
Ballina Northern NSW MERIT 6620 7650 6621 6212
Bankstown Sydney MERIT 9515 7611 9515 3722
Bathurst Western NSW MERIT 6392 6800 6392 6805
Blacktown Western Sydney MERIT 9840 3474
Blayney Western NSW MERIT 6392 6800 6392 6805
Broken Hill Far West NSW MERIT
Burwood Sydney Local MERIT 9515 7611 9515 3722
Byron Bay Northern NSW MERIT 6620 7650 6621 6212
Camden South West Sydney MERIT 8778 0700 8778 0768
Campbelltown South West Sydney MERIT 8778 0700 8778 0768
Casino Northern NSW MERIT 6620 7650 6621 6212
Cessnock Hunter New England MERIT  4016 4656 4016 4661
Coffs Harbour Mid North Coast MERIT   6650 0126 6650 0098
Cooma Southern NSW MERIT  6299 1725 6299 1426
Downing Centre South East Sydney MERIT  9332 8788 9332 8789
Dubbo Western NSW MERIT  6884 7089 6885 4577
Fairfield South West Sydney MERIT  8778 0700 8778 0768
Forbes Western NSW MERIT  6392 6800 6392 6805
Gosford Central Coast  MERIT  4320 3057 4320 2423
Grafton Northern NSW MERIT  6620 7650 6621 6212
Hornsby Northern Sydney MERIT 9462 9199 9439 2973
Junee Murrumbidgee MERIT  6923 5761 6923 5751
Katoomba Nepean Blue Mountains MERIT 4734 2131 4734 3145
Kempsey Mid North Coast MERIT  6586 6030 6586 6040
Kiama Illawarra Shoalhaven MERIT  4254 2700 4254 2771
Kogarah South Eastern Sydney MERIT 9521 8922 9521 8966
Kyogle Northern NSW MERIT  6620 7650 6621 6212
Lismore Northern NSW MERIT  6620 7650 6621 6212
Liverpool South Western Sydney MERIT  8778 0700 8778 0768
Maclean Northern NSW MERIT  6620 7650 6621 6212
Maitland Hunter New England MERIT  4016 4656 4016 4661
Manly Northern Sydney MERIT 9462 9199 9439 2973
Milton Illawarra Shoalhaven MERIT 4422 5822 4422 9684
Mt Druitt Nepean Blue Mountains MERIT 4734 2131 4734 3145
Mullimbimby Northern NSW MERIT 6620 7650 6621 6212
Murwillumbah Northern NSW MERIT 6620 7650 6621 6212
Muswellbrook Hunter New England MERIT 6543 2677 6541 4004
Newcastle Hunter New England MERIT 4016 4656 4016 4661
Newtown Sydney MERIT 9515 3722 9515 3722
North Sydney Northern Sydney MERIT 9462 9199 9439 2973
Nowra Illawarra Shoalhaven MERIT 4422 5822 4422 9684
Oberon Western NSW MERIT 6392 6800 6392 6805
Orange Western NSW MERIT 6392 6800 6392 6805
Parkes Western NSW MERIT 6392 6800 6392 6805
Parramatta Western Sydney MERIT 9840 3474
Penrith Nepean Blue Mountains MERIT 4734 2131 4734 3145
Port Kembla Illawarra Shoalhaven MERIT 4254 2700 4254 2771
Port Macquarie Mid North Coast MERIT 6586 6030 6586 6040
Queanbeyan Southern NSW MERIT 6299 1725 6299 1426
Raymond Terrace Hunter New England MERIT 4016 4656 4016 4661
Ryde Northern Sydney MERIT 9462 9199 9439 2973
Singleton Hunter New England MERIT 6543 2677 6541 4004
Sutherland South Eastern Sydney MERIT 9521 8922 9521 8966
Tamworth Hunter New England MERIT 6766 8081 6766 8083
Toronto Hunter New England MERIT 4016 4656 4016 4661
Tweed Heads Northern NSW MERIT 6620 7650 6621 6212
Wagga Wagga Murrumbidgee MERIT 6923 5761 6923 5751
Wauchope Mid North Coast MERIT 6586 6030 6586 6040
Waverley South Eastern Sydney MERIT 9211 9277 9281 5490
Wellington Western NSW MERIT 6884 7089 6885 4577
Wilcannia Far West NSW MERIT
Wollongong Illawarra Shoalhaven MERIT 4254 2700 4254 2771
Woy Woy Central Coast MERIT 4320 3057 4320 2423
Wyong Central Coast MERIT 4320 3057 4320 2423

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