The Andrews Labor Government today launched the Mildura County Koori Court, delivering more culturally appropriate justice services for the state’s north-west Aboriginal communities.
Parliamentary Secretary for Justice Ben Carroll attended the official ceremony at the Mildura Courthouse, which is the third County Koori Court in Victoria.
Koori Courts were first established as a division of the Magistrates’ Court in 2002 in a bid to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal Victorians in the criminal justice system.
The successful initiative resulted in Koori Courts being expanded to the County and Children’s Court jurisdictions.
Koori Courts work by enabling people appearing before them to discuss underlying issues that contribute to their offending behaviour.
The environment within a Koori Court is less formal than regular courts, with the accused, their families, Koori Elders or Respected Persons, and Koori Court Officers able to contribute directly to the discussion.
In a County Koori Court, the judge still sentences the offender in accordance with the same requirements that apply in the mainstream County Court.
To appear before the Koori Court, a person must be of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, plead guilty, and consent to having the case heard in the Koori Court.
The person must not be charged with a sexual offence or breach of an intervention order, and must be willing to come to court and talk openly about their behaviour.
Currently, the County Koori Court sits in Melbourne and Morwell. The Mildura court will begin sitting on Monday 22 August.
Quotes attributable to Parliamentary Secretary for Justice Ben Carroll
“Koori Courts play a major role in delivering fairer outcomes for Victoria’s Koori people, and this new court in Mildura is a welcome addition.”
“Given the over-representation of Koori people in our criminal justice system, there are enormous benefits in a court process that reduces feelings of intimidation and alienation.”
“I had the honour of co-chairing last year’s Aboriginal Justice Forum held in Mildura which focused on making the legal system more responsive to the needs of the Koori community. It’s a privilege to return to launch the Mildura County Koori Court which will deliver therapeutic justice where it’s needed.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020