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Disability Advice Response Team

The Disability Advice Response Team (DART) is a service response to the overrepresentation of people with disability in the criminal justice system.

The Disability Advice Response Team (DART) is a service response to the overrepresentation of people with disability in the criminal justice system. MCM has partnered with VALS to provide this support in five children's courts in Victoria.

What services does DART provide?

DART workers can assist eligible young people by:

  • Screening for characteristics or traits of disability using the STAR (strategic toolkit for assessing risks) screening tool.
  • Providing advice to court and relevant supporting staff and family on available disability support options in the community.
  • Providing advice to those who are representing, adjudicating or working with a young person at an eligible children’s court location (separate to the Children’s Court Clinic).
  • Assisting with some advice on how to make court processes and information accessible for the young person where appropriate.

DART workers also provide short term support assisting with linking young people to the NDIS or re-engaging with NDIS supports, and engaging other community-based services related to disability supports.

DART does not provide legal advice, advise on sentencing options, direct treatment or long-term case-management support. DART workers will work with lawyers to ensure any interactions with court, including advice to court, are approved alongside their work with the young person.

Where is DART operating?

  • Dandenong Children’s Court (Criminal Division)
  • Geelong Children’s Court (Criminal Division)
  • Marram-Ngala Ganbu (Shepparton Court) and Shepparton Children’s Court (Criminal Division)
  • Marram-Ngala Ganbu (Broadmeadows Court) and Broadmeadows Children’s Court (Criminal Division)
  • Melbourne Children’s Court (Criminal Division)

How can I make a DART referral?

DART referrals can be made in person at each court, please enquire via for more information on staff availability. Site specific resources are available in each court.

How do DART workers engage with the young person presenting at court?

Once the DART worker has received a referral they will meet the young person (and their guardian if they are under 16 years of age) in court and explain the purpose of the screening tool. If the young person or guardian then gives consent to continue with the screening this will be completed on the spot. Advice to court will be prepared and provided to the young person’s lawyer and then to the magistrate if suitable.

What is the screening tool?

The screening tool has been developed by the MCM Allied Health team and is a set of questions and criteria that is used to determine the possibility of whether the young person may or may not have a disability.

The outcome of the initial screening tool will be discussed with the young person and then shared with their lawyer and the magistrate.

*Please note that the screening outcome is not a clinical assessment and that the DART worker will be making recommendations of further assessment to assist with providing short term outreach options.

Who can access the services?

A referral can be made for any young person presenting at court for criminal matters, between the ages of 10 and 18 who may or may not have traits or characteristics of disability.

*Please note, DART workers at Broadmeadows and Shepperton locations are only available for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander young people.

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