16th Reintegration Puzzle Conference

Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre
1-3 June 2022

Changing Seasons,
Changing Lives

From compliance to authentic engagement: practice development approaches in court support programs

The Magistrates’ Court of Victoria has provided a range of case management services to support people with health and complex social needs pre-trial for the past 20 years; but it is only in the last two years these programs have had clinical practice leadership. This presentation provides insight into the thinking and processes involved in developing practice in therapeutic court-based programs to improve outcomes for clients, overall program effectiveness and staff satisfaction.

We contend that effective practice development should mirror effective client work and therefore align with similar frameworks and evidence and be informed by a theory of change. As with client work this starts with a psychosocial assessment; to understand the people and elements that inform the cultural web of practice; such as the power and organisational structures, the rituals and routines, and the symbols and stories (Johnson, Whittington and Scholes; 2012). This cultural knowledge remains an important touchstone in ongoing work of practice development.

Court Support Services clients present with a range of complex needs and risks as well as strengths. The program draws on range of perspectives to inform practice including; recovery-oriented and trauma-informed practices, desistance theory and perspectives from the child and family sector around engaging hard to reach clients.

This is not the ordered path of conceptualising and implementing a new, cutting-edge service but the somewhat messier (but no less innovative) journey of how to retrofit evidence-informed practice to programs with established and institutionally reinforced cultures.


Julia Douglas
Practice Leader
, Magistrates' Court Victoria

Julia Douglas holds a Bachelor of Social Work with First Class Honours from Victoria University. She has 25 years’ experience in the health and community sector, initially in frontline service delivery in the psychiatric disability support sector and assertive outreach to people with complex needs at risk of homelessness. Julia spent five years as an Assessor, Team Leader and Manager with Western Region Health Centre’s (now cohealth) program for clients of the Multiple and Complex Needs Initiative (MACNI). More recently she was Practice Leader of Therapeutic Services at Relationships Australia Victoria. Julia is currently employed as Practice Leader of the Court Integrated Services Program with the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.

Linda Williamson
Practice Leader
, Magistrates' Court Victoria

Linda Williamson is an AHPRA Registered Clinical Neuropsychologist and Supervisor. She holds a Bachelor of Behavioural Science with First Class Honours and Master of Clinical Neuropsychology from La Trobe University.
Linda has worked as a clinical neuropsychologist for over 15 years in community and inpatient settings within the areas of neurological rehabilitation, mental health, drug and alcohol, and aged care. She has expertise in working with individuals who have an acquired brain injury (ABI) due to road traffic accidents, falls and assaults; alcohol and substance misuse; and neurological conditions, such as stroke, brain tumours and multiple sclerosis. She also has specific interest and experience in working with adult clients with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and somatic symptom and related disorders.
Linda has held appointments as Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Ireland, Epworth Rehabilitation, and arbias ABI Specialist Services. She supervises clinical neuropsychologists, conducts training workshops and has been a sessional lecturer in the postgraduate psychology program at La Trobe University.
Since 2013, Linda has worked in private practice and provides diagnostic assessments for insurance companies, legal practitioners, private organisations and individuals. She is a registered provider with Medicare, WorkSafe and the Traffic Accident Commission (TAC).
Linda is the first person to hold the role of Practice Leader in the Assessment and Referral Court within the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.

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