1.0 – Where to get Legal Advice & Advocacy Assistance

Legal Assistance

2.0 – What happens at Court?

The Role of the Courts

When it is alleged that an offence is committed, Queensland police will investigate the matter.The investigator’s role is to work out if there is enough evidence to charge someone with breaking the law. The person charged with the offence is called the defendant or the accused.

The role of the Queensland courts is to decide if the defendant is guilty of the charges and if so, what the penalty will be.

The Courts System

Below is a brief outline of Queensland’s courts.The Supreme Court of Queensland is the state’s highest court. It hears the most serious criminal cases, including murder and serious drug offences. It also hears civil matters involving amounts of more than $250,000. The Supreme Court also includes the Court of Appeal, which hears appeals from the Supreme, the District Court and from many of Queensland’s tribunals.The District Court of Queensland is the state’s intermediate court. It hears serious criminal cases involving offences such as armed robbery and rape. The District Court also hears civil matters involving amounts between $50,000 and $250,000.

The Magistrates Court of Queensland is the state’s lowest level court. It deals with less serious offences such as traffic infringements and burglary. The Magistrates Court also hears civil matters involving amounts of less than $50,000.

The Childrens Court of Queensland is a special District Court that deals with serious cases involving defendants under 17 years of age. The Childrens court is a specially constituted Magistrates Court that deals with simple offences where the defendant is under 17 years of age.

The Murri Court, part of the Magistrates Court, sentences indigenous offenders who plead guilty to minor criminal offences.

The Drug Court, part of the Magistrates Court, sentences people who have pleaded guilty to certain drug-related offences.

3.0 – Court Innovation Programs

Magistrates Court – Criminal

Courts Innovation Programs were established to co-ordinate a number of proactive court diversion, treatment and sentencing initiatives in Queensland. These initiatives are targeted at offenders who appear before the court for offences relating to drug and alcohol addiction and/or homelessness.

The programs also co-ordinate strategies to reduce the number of Indigenous people appearing in the criminal justice system. These strategies take into account cultural issues in bail and sentencing hearings and provide culturally appropriate treatment programs as part of the conditions.

These Magistrates Court diversion initiatives include:

  • Murri Court
  • Drug Court
  • Queensland Illicit Drug Diversion Initiative (QIDDI)
  • Queensland Magistrates Early Referral into Treatment (QMERIT)
  • Queensland Indigenous Alcohol Diversion Program (QIADP)
  • Indigenous Justice Programs (IJP)
  • Homeless Persons Court Diversion Program (HPCDP)
  • Special Circumstances Court List

Click here for further information

4.0 – Information about Forensic Orders

What is a forensic order?

A forensic order gives authority for a person to be detained in an authorised mental health service or, in some cases a high security unit, for treatment or care. When a forensic order is made the person is described as a forensic patient

Click here to view information on Forensic Orders

5.0 – Information about the Mental Health Review Tribunals

A Brief Guide

The Tribunal is an independent body established under the Mental Health Act 2000 to protect the rights of people receiving involuntary treatment for mental illness.
It provides an independent review, and makes decisions about whether the involuntary treatment will continue or not. It also decides whether the treatment will be given in hospital or in the community. In making these decisions, the Tribunal must balance the rights of the patient with the rights of others and the protection of the community.

Click here to view information about Mental Health Review Tribunals

6.0 – Information about Involuntary Treatment Orders

Click here to view information about Involuntart Treatment Orders

7.0 – Information about QCAT, and Guardianship and Administration

What is QCAT, and What is Guardianship and Administration?


The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal is similar to a court, but is more informal.  It has power under the Guardianship and Administration Act to determine whether or not an adult has capacity to make decisions, including decisions about healthcare, property and money.  If QCAT finds that the adult lacks capacity, it may appoint a person to make decisions on the adult’s behalf.  This person is a substitute decision maker.  The Guardianship and Administration Act sets out the types of decisions which the substitute decision maker can make, and QCAT may specify or limit how they can make these decisions.  These decisions are in two major categories: personal and financial.  Special requirements apply to some personal, financial, and health care decisions.

Click here for more information about QCAT and Guardianship and Administration


Guardianship is where a substitute decision maker makes decisions on behalf of an adult who does not have the capacity to make those decisions.  A person becomes a substitute decision maker or guardian when QCAT makes a guardianship order.

The Adult Guardian is an independent statutory body.  This means that it operates independently of government.  The Adult Guardian protects the rights and interests of people who lack capacity, and investigates allegations of abuse by substitute decision makers.  It also helps to resolve disputes between attorneys, guardians and administrators.  The Adult Guardian may be appointed as a person’s guardian or attorney.

Click here for more information about guardianship and the Adult Guardian

What is the Role of the Public Trustee?

The Public Trustee is an independent statutory body.  It has a variety of functions, including the ability to act as a person’s Attorney where that person has signed an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA).  Where a person has appointed an Attorney under their EPA, the Attorney has the ability to make decisions on that person’s behalf if the person loses capacity.  This is different from guardianship, because the person decides in advance who can make decisions for them if they lose capacity.

Click  here for more information about the Public Trustee

8.0 – Information about Enduring Powers of Attorney, Advance Health Directives

Click here for information on Enduring Powers of Attorney

Click here to view information regarding Enduring Powers of Attorney and Power of Attorney

Click here to view information regarding Advance Health Directives

9.0 – The Court Process

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