Abe’s story

Abe’s story

Abe’s story shows how the therapeutic approach of the Assessment and Referral Court (ARC) gave him the tools to live a fulfilling life. 

ARC is a therapeutic or problem-solving court set up within the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria for people with a mental health issue or a cognitive impairment such as an intellectual disability, acquired brain injury or autism spectrum disorder.

ARC takes a tailored and intensive approach to help people recover and build a stable life.


‘ARC saved me.  

I’ve survived a lot of trauma in my life and I ended up in custody when I was 22.  

Without ARC, I think I might never have escaped the legal system. 

ARC is the service that takes people in the criminal justice system and gives them tools to live a fulfilling life. They break the cycle of institutionalisation. 

My VLA lawyer was just as important as the ARC service. She calmed me down, listened to me and was kind.  

I was lucky I was in Melbourne – sometimes I think, what would have happened to me if I was somewhere that ARC wasn’t available? That thought scares me.  

If there were more ARC programs, I think more lives would be saved and the re-offending rate would go down. 

Every time I look at my ARC certificate, I remember not to let myself or the Magistrate down. He was like a father to me during those years and I miss him. 

I received a discharge which means my criminal record has been cleared of those crimes. 

It means I can study and get a career as a vet nurse. This is what I am doing now.  

They gave me a future.’

More information

Read more about our recommendations to reduce the number of people with mental health issues in the criminal justice system.

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