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Victoria’s Neighbourhood Justice Centre

Dec 09, 2009

from the paper prepared by Courts and Tribunals Unit, Department of Justice, Victoria for the Indigenous Justice Clearinghouse:

Community Justice Centres are neighbourhood-focused centres that seek to enhance community participation in the justice system, address local problems, and enhance the quality of local community life....Centres often vary in their model and focus but generally share a motivation to address crime and safety concerns locally, by developing effective relationships and links with the local community.

Community justice centres challenge traditional methods of the criminal justice system. Rather than focusing on responding to crime after it has occurred, they seek to develop new relationships, both within the justice system and with stakeholders from the wider community, and to trial new and innovative approaches to community safety...

A feature common to the various kinds of centres around the world is that they seek to respond in innovative ways to issues that may be otherwise considered negligible in the traditional criminal justice system.

Whilst the NJC model has developed under various influences in Australia and internationally, some of the Victorian NJC’s strength are:

  • therapeutic and restorative principles underpinning the NJC’s functions inside and outside the courtroom
  • a balance of staff activity between the operations of the
    court and community development activities
  • community involvement in planning, implementation, and governance
  • participation in community projects and in partnerships with a range of community groups and agencies
  • the court’s multiple jurisdictions, hearing both civil and criminal matters, and
  • having one primary magistrate, who can implement judicial case management.

Partnering with the local community to encourage positive participation and ownership of the justice system, the NJC has set out to give the local community a the justice system. The multidisciplinary teams and multijurisdictional court provide opportunities to quickly and effectively address various local crime and safety concerns in the one location. The NJC ultimately seeks to be innovative, flexible, and immediate in this work. Its overarching objectives are to:

  • increase community safety by contributing to the reduction of crime in the City of Yarra, and
  • increase offender accountability and reduce reoffending rates of participants.
  • The NJC’s strengths allow it many opportunities to explore alternative avenues for justice in the local community in keeping with these objectives. The NJC’s more specific and immediate justice outcomes, through lower rates of breach of criminal court orders
  • better community outcomes in the administration of justice in the City of Yarra, through greater confidence of participants including victims, defendants, applicants, witnesses and the local community) in the justice system
  • modernisation of courts through contributing to cultural and procedural change in the justice system, and
  • better administration of justice for NJC court participants.
Read the whole paper.

 

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