Assessment and Referral Court List (ARC)


Section 4S of the Magistrates' Court Act 1989.


ARC is a specialist pre-sentence court program that meets the needs of accused persons who have a mental illness and / or a cognitive impairment.

Located at the Melbourne and Moorabbin Magistrates’ Court, ARC works collaboratively with the Court Integrated Services Program (CISP) to provide: 

  • psychological assessments
  • referral to welfare services
  • mental health support
  • disability support
  • housing services
  • drug and / or alcohol treatment.

The ARC List operates on a problem-solving court model, where the Magistrate hears the matter(s) and reviews the accused progress from the Bar Table instead of the stand.


  • Reduce the risk of harm to the community by addressing the underlying factors that contribute to an accused persons offending behaviour.
  • Improve the health and wellbeing of accused persons with a mental impairment by facilitating access to appropriate treatment and other support services.
  • Increase public confidence in the criminal justice system by improving court processes and increasing options available to courts in responding to accused persons with a mental impairment.
  • Reduce the number of offenders with a mental impairment received into the prison system.
The ARC List has a small number of specialist magistrates assigned to it who manage and monitor the progress of all participants on the List.

The ARC List will assess the needs of participants and refer them to appropriate health, welfare and disability services that are tailored to their particular needs.

ARC List case managers make recommendations to an ARC List magistrate about the suitability for inclusion on the List and the supports that can be offered.

If the magistrate accepts the person on the List, an individual support plan (ISP) is developed as part of case management, in collaboration with the participant.

A plea of guilty is required prior to the development of an ISP.

Participation on the List will also require participants to appear before the magistrate on a regular basis to review and discuss their progress.

Participants can be involved with the ARC List between three and 12 months. 
Eligibility Criteria

The accused is charged with a criminal offence listed at a ++court where the ARC List operates.


  • The accused person consents to participate in the List.  The consent requirement encompasses the accused persons consent to the sharing of information between service providers as well as consent to participate in the actual program.  If consent is not given, the accused will be referred back to mainstream court.
  • If an accused person is not competent to consent to involvement in the List and there is no other person with legal standing to consent in her or his place (such as a duly appointed guardian), the referred person cannot be accepted onto the List.

Diagnostic Criteria 

  • The accused person has a mental illness, intellectual disability, acquired brain injury, autism spectrum disorder and/or neurological impairment, including dementia.  The definition of mental illness is the same as that used in s.4 of the Mental Health Act 2014.  The definition of intellectual disability is the same as that used in s.3 of the Disability Act 2006.

Functional Criteria

  • The accused person has one of the disorders defined in the diagnostic criteria or a combination thereof, which causes a substantial reduced capacity in at least one of the areas of self-management, social interaction or communication.

Needs Criteria

  • The accused person would derive benefit from receiving co-ordinated services in accordance with a support plan that may include psychological assessment, welfare, health, mental health and disability services, alcohol and other drug treatment, and/or housing and support services, and would benefit from participation in a problem solving court process.

Referrals will be accepted from the accused, significant others, community service organisations, magistrates, police, prosecutors, legal representatives and other court based support services.


Contact the ARC List registrar on (03) 9628 7975 or (03) 9628 7936 to seek a listing date.

Once a listing date is confirmed, email the ARC List referral form, diagnostic evidence, priors and remand summaries to


Contact the ARC List registrar on (03) 9090 8000 to seek a listing date.

Once a listing date is confirmed, email the ARC List referral form, diagnostic evidence, priors and remand summaries to  

ARC List Process

Once a referral is made, the List process will involve:

  • The CISP staff will conduct an initial assessment.  The CISP staff will also commence addressing support needs at this stage
  • Liaison will occur with the List staff to determine the next available court date
  • A List clinical advisor will undertake a comprehensive clinical assessment
  • At the next available List sitting, the List magistrate will decide whether to accept the participant in the List
  • If the referral is accepted, the List clinical advisor will develop a draft individual support plan (ISP) in collaboration with the participant and the CISP staff for approval of the Magistrate
  • The participant appears before the List Magistrate on a regular basis to discuss her/his progress
  • If the participant pleads guilty at the end of their participation, they will be sentenced within the List
  • If the participant pleads not guilty at the end of their participation the case will be returned to ‘mainstream’ court for a contested hearing
  • Participants will be involved with the List for between three and twelve months, with most being discharged from the List within six months
  • If the referral is not accepted, the accused person’s charges will be referred back to the mainstream court lists.  Where appropriate, the CISP will continue to provide necessary support to the accused or, where connected with services, referred back to those relevant treatment and support services.
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