The sentencing outcomes in Koori Court are the same as in mainstream criminal cases but the court process is different.
Why do we have a Koori Court?
The Children's Koori Court was established in 2005 to address the over-representation of young Koori people in the criminal justice system. By involving the Koori community in the court process through the participation of Elders and Respected Persons the Koori Court aims to reduce offending behaviour and reduce the number of young Koori people being sentenced to a period of detention.
What do Elders and Respected Persons do in the Koori Court?
In the Children's Koori Court an Elder or Respected Person sits on either side of the Judge or Magistrate. It is the role of the Elders or Respected Persons to give cultural advice to the Judge or Magistrate in relation to the young person's situation. The Elders or Respected Persons may talk to the young person about their circumstances and why they are in court. It is not the role of the Elders or Respected Persons to decide on the outcome of the case. Only the Judge or Magistrate makes the sentencing decision.
How does the Koori Court operate?
In a mainstream court case the Judge or Magistrate sits at the bench, the lawyers sit at the bar table and the accused person sits either in the dock or in the public seating behind their lawyer. In the Koori Court everyone sits around an oval table. At the table in the Children's Koori Court you would find:
- the Judge or Magistrate;
- the Elders or Respected Persons, one sitting on either side of the Judge or Magistrate;
- the young Koori person;
- a family member of the young person or a support person;
- a police prosecutor;
- the young person's lawyer;
- a Youth Justice representative; and
- the Children's Koori Court officer.
In the Koori Court the young person will have the opportunity to speak for themselves. Other people in the courtroom, such as family and community members, can also have a say.
Who can have their case heard in the Koori Court?
To have your case dealt with in the Children's Koori Court you must:
- be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander;
- want to go to the Koori Court;
- not be charged with a sex offence; and
- plead guilty to your offence, or have been found guilty of your offence.
Where is the Children's Koori Court located?
The Children's Koori Court is currently sitting at:
- Latrobe Valley (Morwell);
- Swan Hill; and
For more information you can speak to the Koori Court Officer at:
Melbourne Children's Court
477 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne 3000
Tel: (03) 8638 3377
56 Deakin Avenue, Mildura 3500
Tel: (03) 5021 6000
Latrobe Valley Law Courts
134 Commercial Road, Morwell 3840
Tel: (03) 5116 5213
Nicholson Street, Bairnsdale 3875
Tel: (03) 5152 9222
Warrnambool Court (also for sittings at Portland and Hamilton)
218 Koroit Street, Warrnambool 3280
Tel: (03) 5564 1112
Swan Hill Court
121 Curlewis Street, Swan Hill 3585
Tel: (03) 5032 0803
14 High Street, Shepparton 3630
Tel: (03) 5821 4633
Information is also available from Court Services Victoria's Koori Court Unit on telephone (03) 9032 0184.