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Australia : New Melbourne Magistrates Koori Court launched.

Attorney-General Robert Clark yesterday joined Chief Magistrate Peter Lauritsen to launch the Melbourne Magistrates Koori Court.

The new court is the eighth adult Magistrates Koori Court in Victoria, in which Koori elders and respected persons sit with the Magistrate as part of the sentencing process.

Victoria s Koori Courts have resulted in better engagement with the justice system for Aboriginal Victorians, helping offenders to address the causes of their offending and thus helping prevent re-offending, Mr Clark said.

Mr Clark said Koori Courts were a key element of the Aboriginal Justice Agreement, the Victorian Government s blueprint for reducing the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people within our justice system, both as offenders and as victims.

The Koori Courts initiative has helped improve justice outcomes for the Koori community for the benefit of all Victorians, Mr Clark said.

Not only have Koori Courts provided more successful outcomes in individual cases, they have improved the engagement of Koori communities with the justice system and have helped build capacity within Koori communities.

Mr Clark said the success of Victoria s Koori Courts was a testament to the work of all involved elders and respected persons, the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, the Department of Justice, Corrections Victoria, Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committees, Victoria Police, the Office of Public Prosecutions and Koori organisations and communities around the state.

Koori Courts are a division of the Court that operates in a less formal setting, with the accused sitting at the one table with their family and lawyers alongside prosecutors, representatives of relevant agencies, elders or respected persons and the magistrate while issues relating to the offence and the sentence are discussed. The presiding magistrate then determines and imposes the sentence.

For a case to be heard in the Koori Court, a person who is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander must plead guilty to a charge and be willing to come to court and talk about their offending and its context. The court does not hear sexual offence cases or breaches of intervention orders.

Victoria s eight adult and seven children s Koori courts employ 19 Aboriginal people, with an additional 80 elders and respected persons.

The Melbourne Magistrates Koori Court will sit within the Melbourne Magistrates Court building on William Street, and will complement the existing County and Children s Koori Courts that currently sit within Melbourne s legal precinct.

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Publication:Mena Report
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jul 17, 2014
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