Understanding Community-Based Sanctions

In recent years there have been several changes to sentencing and parole systems in Victoria, including:

  • The introduction of community correction orders (CCOs) to replace Community-Based Orders (CBO’s) and Intensive Correction Orders (ICO’s);
  • The abolition of suspended sentences; and
  • The introduction of combined sentences (a period of imprisonment followed by a CCO)

The Orders listed below can all have a drug and alcohol treatment condition attached to them.


Parole is an order than allows a prisoner to serve part of their sentence in the community, allowing for a supervised transition back into the community. Prisoners must apply to the Adult Parole Board to be eligible for release on parole and are only eligible if their court sentencing included a non-parole period (i.e. the minimum period the offender must serve in prison). On a parole order, individuals are supervised by a Corrections Victoria parole officer, and must meet several conditions which may include securing appropriate housing, completion of community work, electronic monitoring, attending drug or psychological treatment, or submitting for drug tests. The special condition that the parolee ‘undergo assessment or treatment for alcohol or drug addiction or submit to medical, psychological or psychiatric treatment as required’ was imposed on 59% of parolees in 2010–11.

If parole is cancelled (e.g. if an offender commits an offence while on parole), the prisoner will be required to fulfil the period of the original sentence remaining at the time of cancellation, as well as any further time imposed due to further offending.

Recent legislative changes have made it harder to obtain parole, meaning more offenders are spending longer periods in prison and more offenders are released from prison without parole.

Community Corrections Order (CCO)

A community correction order (CCO) is a sentence imposed by a court that allows offenders to complete their sentences in a community setting, rather than in prison. CCOs can be imposed for a maximum of two years per offence, and are limited to offenders who have committed less serious offences. CCOs can be imposed on their own or in addition to incarceration or a fine. CCOs have been implemented to be more flexible than and replace earlier community sentences such as suspended sentences, community-based order (CBO) and the intensive correction order (ICO).

People who are sentenced to a CCO must comply with specific conditions imposed by the courts, such as mandatory drug and alcohol treatment, unpaid community work, curfews and judicial monitoring. These conditions are often the same as those imposed during parole periods.

This type of sentencing is cheaper than housing someone in custody and results in better outcomes. For example, of offenders discharged from a CCO in 2014-15, 26.7% returned to corrective services within two years, in comparison to 43.6% of offenders discharged from prison. Since the abolition of suspended sentences in 2012, and the introduction of combined sentences, there has been a significant increase in the number of people on CCOs.  For example, in 2012, there were 5871 people on CCO’s, and by 2017 there were 14,298 – nearly three times as many.

Since 2014 in Victoria, offenders may be sentenced to a combined sentence, where they serve a term of imprisonment followed by a community corrections order. As of 2017 combined sentences are only available for offenders with sentences of up to one year.

Drug Treatment Order

A drug treatment order (DTO) is an order imposed by the Victorian Drug Court that involves a combined sentence of imprisonment with drug treatment, however the imprisonment sentence is suspended while the offender undergoes treatment. DTOs impose conditions such as regular supervision, restriction of movement/freedom and drug testing. The successful completion of a DTO allows the offender to avoid serving time in prison. However, failing to comply with conditions may result in further conditions imposed or time served in prison.

Supervision Order

Supervision orders require individuals who have served time in prison for serious sex/violent offences to undergo further post-release supervision. These orders may be imposed if the offender is considered to present a high risk to the community, they can be made for up to 15 years, and must be reviewed at three year intervals.

Supervision orders require offenders who pose a risk of committing serious offences to undergo community based supervision once released from prison and can include several conditions imposed by the court, including a condition to undergo alcohol and drug treatment.

Court Integrated Services Program (CISP)

The Court Integrated Services Program (CISP) is a program that can be mandated as a condition of bail, for individuals with social and/or health needs. CISP aims to provide support and treatment to individuals prior to sentencing, as well as reduce rates of re-offending. Individuals mandated to complete CISP may be required to access drug and alcohol treatment through the program. It is important to note that these individuals have not yet been found guilty of the current offence for which they are before the court, and as such treatment should focus on treating substance use rather than directly targeting their offending behaviour

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