The Start Court
The Start Court is a Magistrates Court based within the Central Law Courts in the Perth CBD specialising in dealing with offenders who have mental health issues.
Referrals to the Start Court are typically made by Magistrates in general court lists, often at the suggestion of a defence lawyer, family member or the individual.
The Start Court offers a program that combines access to mental health supports and services, and support for drug and alcohol use (if required), with regular appearances before the Start Court Magistrate. The Program usually takes around six months to complete.
To be eligible to participate, the individual must have a mental health condition, accept that he or she committed the offence(s) that led to the court appearance and be eligible for bail. Participation is strictly voluntary.
Successful participation in the Start Court may be taken into account during sentencing.
The Start Court is operated by a dedicated team that includes a Magistrate, mental health clinicians, community support coordinators and dedicated Police Community Corrections personnel and a Legal Aid ‘duty lawyer’.
Legal Aid duty lawyers in magistrates’ courts can provide legal advice to prospective Start Court participants including whether Start Court may be a suitable referral option. A duty lawyer attends Start Court each day and can provide ongoing advice and represent participants appearing in court. The Start Court’s community support coordinators have access to a small amount of discretionary funding that can be used to meet urgent needs, such as food and clothing, as quickly as possible.
The Start Court is overseen by an Operational Committee inclusive of representatives from participating agencies as well as consumer and family representatives.
Electronic brochures with further information on the Start Court are available here.
Providing feedback on the Start Court
The Start Court team values participant feedback. In addition to the Start Court Consumer Representative making contact with participants to offer a post exit consumer survey, lead agencies can be contacted via the links below and welcome compliments, complaints and suggestions. Alternately direct contact with the Start Court clinical team (9224 2028) or Court Coordinator (9425 3422) can be made.
Start Court Clinical Team (North Metropolitan Health Service – State Forensic Mental Health Service)
Magistrates Court Perth
Mental Health Commission