Koori Court

The Koori Court emerged from recommendations made from the RCIADIC (Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody) It has been created under the Magistrates Court Act of 2002. The Koori court system is an alternate option for processing Aboriginal defendants. It offers an informal atmosphere and encourages participation of  local Aboriginal Communities. ‘Koori’ Elders and ‘Koori’ respected persons and ‘Koori’ court officers break down the cultural alienation that occurs in a traditional court room setting. The magistrate is not seated on a bench and the defendant sits with family members. Proceedings take place in plain English with Koori Elders offering advice on Cultural issues and interpretation of traditional language. The Koori Court has been successful in that communities have taken ownership in the administration of the law. It has significantly reduced the number of breached court orders and the incidence of re-offending. Offenders are more accountable to their families and their community and there is a heightened awareness within Koori communities of expected codes of conduct and standards of behavior. On the basis of this initial success a Koori children’s court was established in 2005.  The Koori court system addresses many of the impedments that Aboriginal people face when involved in the Australian Criminal Justice system. It is a relatively simple concept but outcomes to date attest to its success and it provides a positive reference point for further legal reform. Similar projects have been initiated in New South Wales and in March of this year Supreme Court Judges from Adelaide spent a week on the Anangu pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands taking steps to break down the cultural barriers between Aboriginal people and the legal system.

www.magistratescourtvic.gov.au/home/specialist/koori+court

Jeanette Schilg

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