Lyons Street Diversionary Service – Diversionary Centre & Cell Watch Visitor Program

As a result of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths is Custody both the Diversionary Centre and the Cell Visitor program were established. The Diversionary Centre aims to provide an alternative to formal custody for intoxicated persons. The Cell Visitor Program aims to ensure the safety and wellbeing of detainees in the Cairns Watch-House. The Cairns Watch-House is the largest in Queensland outside of Brisbane, and has the capacity to hold 100 detainees at any given time. People can be held in the Watch-House for up to 30 days.

Diversionary Centre

Supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people  aged 18 years and over, or aged 17  years and over if referred by the Queensland Police Service, who are at risk of being taken into custody for public intoxication offences.

This may include:

  • Single Men
  • Single Women
  • Young people aged 17 years and over.

While the target group does not include non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those who meet the criteria above may also be provided with a service. At any time no more than 25% of the clients at the Diversionary Centre will be non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Diversionary Centre is a sobering up facility for intoxicated individuals who are at risk of being a danger to themselves or others, are causing a public nuisance, or who would otherwise be detained at the Cairns Watch-House. The Centre provides a safe and culturally appropriate sobering up facility where clients are provided with supervision (half hourly observations), care, companionship and support. While individuals are in the centre they are provided with meals and access to personal hygiene and laundry facilities.

People can access the Diversionary Centre by self-presentation or assistance from support services. The Centre is open 24 hours per day and clients are encouraged to stay for a minimum of four hours or until sober. The Centre accepts walk in referrals as well as referrals from the police and a range of other services and agencies in the community.The Centre also provides a client pick-up service at various locations around the city in response to referral requests.

The Diversionary Centre staff provides an assisted referral process to appropriate agencies, as well as assisting clients to attend medical and court appointments by arranging transport and/or referral to support agencies.

Contact Details

Diversionary Centre operates 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year for self-referring clients, police referrals and clients referred by other agencies.