COATS / News


Operations Update for ACSO COATS During the COVID-19 Pandemic 


AOD Treatment Agencies

Corrections Victoria


Friday, 3 April 2020


Dear All,

ACSO would like to advise the current operations for ACSO COATS:

  • ACSO COATS are meeting daily with DHHS, Corrections Victoria and Justice Health
  • ALL ACSO Hubs state-wide closed for client access as of 5pm Friday 27 March
  • COATS have transitioned to phone assessments for COATS and RAPIDS and will also continue to book Virtual Connection (VC) Prison assessments and VC Jabber assessments
  • COATS CSU has transitioned entirely to working from home and will continue to work with providers, COATS CSU can be contacted as per below:

  • COATS Correction Program Referrals
  • Drug Court Referrals

  • General COATS enquiries
  • Assigning access to brokered client files
  • Re-booking/ cancellation of COATS Assessment
  • General rebrokerage enquiries

  •  General enquiries including cancellations, re-bookings and eligibility  
  •  For receiving external agency Choices appointments

  • CISP/CREDIT/ARC/NJC referrals via COATS E-Referral
  • General bail referral enquiries
  • Referrals for assessment and/or treatment

  •  StepOut and Parole referrals via COATS E-Referral
  • General prison referrals enquiries
  • Corella Place enquiries on high risk referrals

  •  Access to upcoming induction appointments
  •  General kickstart program and eligibility enquiries

  •  NIDS Diversion referrals via COATS E-Referral
  • General Diversion eligibility enquiries

  • Youth Justice referrals via COATS E-Referral
  • General youth justice enquiries

  •  DDAL referrals via Turning Point
  •  General DDAL Assessment enquiries on client compliance

  •  General agency waitlist enquiries
  •  For receiving external agency initial treatment appointments only

  • General Variations and Extension enquiries
  • Variations and Extension requests are submitted via Penelope Documents tab

  •  For COATS Finance Payment Guidelines visit
  • General TCA enquiries, deferrals and processing forensic claims
  •  Agency and consortia monthly reports

  • Password errors/ login issues/ technical issues
  •  Training video/manuals for Penelope use
  • Requests for main site logins for management access/ Shared Login Consent

 Please continue to use the above emails for all enquiries, please share with your relevant colleagues.  ACSO COATS appreciate that these are unchartered times and we will continue to support treatment agencies as you also navigate moving to new ways of working remotely.

I have also attached a link to our website pertaining to COVID-19 information:

Kind regards,

Amanda Exley

Senior Manager – Forensic Assessment and Coordination 


Introducing the New Forensic AoD Assessment Tool (FAxT)


Background and Rationale

The new forensic screening and assessment tool is a key component of the new Forensic Alcohol and Other Drugs Treatment Service Delivery Model designed in collaboration between the Department of Justice and Regulation, Department of Health and Human Services and the alcohol and drug treatment sector.
Throughout the consultation phase of the Model’s development, there was an identified need for a specific forensic screening and assessment tool that better identifies an individual’s risk of substance related harm and the relationship to their risk of reoffending.

ACSO has developed this tool in consultation with the Forensic Clinical Advisory Group, Community Corrections Services, Alcohol and Drug treatment services and specialist input from Dr Astrid Birgden.


Summary of Differences

Key elements

  • The Corrections Victoria Treatment Readiness Questionnaire (CVTRQ) has been introduced which provides a treatment readiness score and identifies areas that AOD treatment providers and/or correctional staff may focus on to increase treatment readiness. This replaces the use of the MASCOT.
  • The World Health Organisation’s Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Tool (ASSIST) screen is used to determine the level of AOD related harm. This replaces the use of the AUDIT/DUDIT.
  • A matrix of the level of risk of re-offending (determined by LS/RNR results) and level of AOD related harm (determined by the ASSIST) is used recommend treatment type and level, no longer requiring the calculation of a tier.


Assessment Report

The structure of the COATS assessment report will not alter but based on the consultation with both CCS and AOD service providers, will include details on the following:

  • the AOD treatment needs of the person
  • readiness for treatment 
  • the relationship between their use and their offending behaviour
  • factors influencing recovery
  • supports required to increase the likelihood of treatment attendance and completion

How does Penelope change?
In Penelope, there will be three assessment related documents available, not the current four, as follows:

  • Forensic AOD Assessment Report – includes information collected during the assessment. Can be printed in its entirety or printed as a ‘letter’ as per the traditional COATS/RAPIDS report 
  • Initial Treatment Plan –minimal change, incorporates new Victorian Alcohol and Drug Collection (VADC) requirements, 
  • Standardised Assessment Tools –contains responses and scores associated with the standardised assessment tools administered during the assessment, including the ASSIST, the CVTRQ and the K10.

Please see the ‘New Forensic AOD Assessment Documents in Penelope’ information sheet on the Fact Sheets and Information page of this website to find out how to locate and print these new documents on Penelope.

 UPDATE 04/10/2018

Some Treatment Providers have reported difficulties in locating and printing the new Forensic AOD Assessment documents. A short video guide has been uploaded to guide you through this process, and is available here.


New! Assessment Feedback Form


Here at ACSO COATS we have been working hard to refine the quality of our assessments, and ensure we provide treating clinicians and case managers with the most useful and relevant information possible. Your feedback is integral to this monitoring and improvement.

ACSO have developed an Assessment Feedback form in our Penelope CMS. Should you have feedback on a particular COATS Assessment, you can now let us know through completing a simple form in the Penelope portal.

For more information and instructions, please see the Penelope Guides on our website, or click here to download the guide.


We look forward to hearing from you!




Newsletters and Communique 

COATS Newsletter 21.03.16.pdf

Communique April (1) 2015

Communique June 2015

AOD Reform Transition Communiques

ACSO COATS Communique 1_-_18-8-14

ACSO COATS Communique 2 - 20-8-14.pdf