The KickStart story

Right now around Australia there is a critical gap in Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) programs for people on a community correction order who are at a medium to high-risk of re-offending.

For example, in Victoria, the number of people on community correction orders has significantly increased due to recent sentencing and parole reforms. Within this growing group, the incidence of alcohol and drug problems is exceptionally high.

Addressing these problems requires specialist and intensive treatment interventions to effectively treat the underlying causes of offending and AOD use.

Until recently, short to medium-term individual counselling was the primary treatment offered to people on a community correction order. However, compliance was low with participants often not attending sessions.

KickStart steps it up

In 2015, Caraniche – in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, and Justice Health – wanted to develop a criminogenic AOD group program that increased the availability of treatment offered to this group of people.

By applying their 25 years’ of experience developing and delivering group-based AOD programs in prisons, Caraniche created KickStart: a program aimed at assisting people on a community correction order to reduce substance use, improve their lifestyle choices and health, and reduce criminogenic risks.

KickStart uses proven, evidence-based approaches to build motivation, self-efficacy for change and increase awareness of the link between substance use and offending. To reduce harm and subsequent re-offending behavior, they also provide the skills and strategies needed to manage high risk situations.

With KickStart, change is possible

Changes in participant behaviour were evident in the 2015/2016 Pilot Program. Key changes included reductions in order breaches and detected drug use, improved wellbeing and emotional states, and positive feedback from participants.

This represented a reduction in drug using behaviour whilst participating in the program, and increased compliance with correction order requirements.

KickStart expands to reach more participants

The initial pilot phase of KickStart demonstrated that the program was able to achieve its primary goal: positive outcomes for moderate and high-risk people on community correction orders. Additionally, we needed to know that this cohort would actually attend group treatment! The pilot results were promising – by the end of this phase we had a 70% completion rate with participants reporting a decrease in their criminal thinking patterns and improved emotional regulation.

Since then, KickStart has expanded its program suite with six variants of the program available to both men and women. The programs are now being delivered face-to-face by seven dedicated KickStart providers across Melbourne and Regional Victorian locations.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Caraniche adapted the KickStart programs for delivery via a web-based platform that can be accessed via any digital device including a Smartphone. These designed-for-digital formats of the KickStart program have increased accessibility and provide an engaging program experience for participants and facilitators. Initial piloting demonstrated that the digital variants of KickStart achieves high completion rates and comparable outcomes to the standard face-to-face delivery modality

KickStart programs continue to receive positive feedback from both participants and facilitators, and we look forward to continuing to expand the reach to more participants and reducing the incidence of AOD related offending.