Assessment and Referral Court List (ARC)

Assessment and Referral Court List

The Assessment and Referral Court List (the List) is a specialist court list developed by the Department of Justice and the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria to meet the needs of accused persons who have a mental illness and/or a cognitive impairment.
The List is located at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court and works collaboratively with the Court Integrated Services Program (CISP), which provides case management to participants.  Case management may include psychological assessment, referral to welfare, health, mental health, disability, housing services and/or drug and alcohol treatment.


The List was established by the Magistrates’ Court Amendment (Assessment and Referral Court List) Act 2010.

Aims of the List
  • To reduce the risk of harm to the community by addressing the underlying factors that contribute to offending behaviour
  • To improve the health and wellbeing of accused persons with a mental impairment by facilitating access to appropriate treatment and other support services
  • To 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
  • To reduce the number of offenders with a mental impairment received into the prison system.
Eligibility Criteria

The following eligibility criteria apply to the ARC List:

  • The accused person is charged with a criminal offence listed at Melbourne Magistrates Court (proper venue rules apply)
  • The accused person has not been charged with an excluded criminal offence that involves serious violence or serious sexual assault (see clauses 1, 2 or 3 of Schedule 1 of the Sentencing Act 1991)
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  • The accused person has (or is likely to have) a mental illness, intellectual disability, acquired brain injury, autism spectrum disorder and/or a neurological impairment, including dementia
  • The disorder/s cause/s a substantially reduced capacity in at least one of the areas of self-care, self-management, social interaction or communication
  • The accused person would derive benefit from receiving co-ordinated services in accordance with an individual support plan. These may include psychological assessment; welfare, health, mental health, and/or disability services; drug and alcohol treatment; or housing and support services; and/or would benefit from participation in a problem solving court process
  • The accused person consents to participate in the List, including attending court regularly and meeting with ARC staff. 

The ARC List Magistrates, informed by the information and recommendations of the ARC List Team, make all decisions about acceptance to, and participation in, the ARC List.


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

ARC List Referral Forms are available from the Court Support Services counter, Level 4 Melbourne Magistrates’ Court and the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria website.  Please speak with a member of the ARC List Team prior to making the referral.

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.
Court Hearings

The ARC List operates on a Problem-Solving Court model, which provides an informal approach where the Magistrate hears the matter/s and reviews the participant’s progress on the program from the Bar Table, along with ARC List staff and the participant.

Area of Legislation: 

Assessment and Referral Court List (ARC)