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First Koori Court in Melbourne opened

Briefs

Cite as: (2003) 77(4) LIJ, p.14

Melbourne’s first Koori Court was launched at the Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court before members of the Koori population, legal profession and police on 4 March. The Court joins the Shepparton Koori Court, which opened last September, in a two-year pilot program designed to lower the number of indigenous people in the criminal justice system.

Under the rules of the Court, magistrate Ann Collins will be the ultimate decision-maker, but will be advised on cultural matters by an Aboriginal person and be assisted with case management by an Aboriginal justice worker.

The Court, which sits once a fortnight, will also include a community corrections officer, a police prosecutor and a defence lawyer.

Executive officer of the Melbourne Metropolitan Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee Brett Ahmat said Koori courts were about attempting to apply mainstream law in a more appropriate way to Koori people.

“We’re concerned about the high exposure of Koori people to the criminal justice system and the Koori Court is a way of adapting the system so Kooris can be better involved in the court process, and sentencing is more meaningful.”

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