The County Koori Court became Melbourne’s newest court, after opening its doors yesterday. The Court aims to involve the accused and the Koori community in the sentencing process, as well as providing support for the accused and encouraging them to discuss their offending.
It serves as a sentencing court for Aboriginal accused who plead guilty and consent to their matter being heard in the Koori Court. Matters in the court are dealt with in three parts. The accused formally enters their guilty plea in the arraignment, before a sentencing conversation takes place. The conversation involves the Judge, Elders, Respected Persons, the accused, the lawyer for the accused, the Prosecutor, a Koori Court Officer, a Corrections Officer and the accused’s family. All parties are able to participate in the discussion. Following the conversation, the judge then delivers the sentence.
The opening of the new court in Melbourne follows the successful pilot of Victoria’s first County Koori Court in La Trobe Valley.
“What has been important in establishing the County Koori Courts in the Latrobe Valley and Melbourne is the level of support shown by Koori communities in engaging with a justice system which has previously failed them,” said County Court Chief Judge Michael Rozenes.
“There has been a dramatic decrease in the amount of reoffending and a dramatic increase in the compliance with orders”.
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