New Children’s Koori Court for Melbourne’s south-east

• Koori Courts helping to reduce overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the justice system
• Engaging Koori communities to deliver better outcomes
• Napthine Government committed to closing the gap

Attorney-General Robert Clark has today joined President of the Children’s Court, Judge Peter Couzens, to open the Dandenong Children’s Koori Court.

Mr Clark said the new court is the 11th Children’s Koori Court in Victoria and closely follows the opening of the Heidelberg Children’s Koori Court in late August.

“Koori Courts have been a success in achieving improved outcomes both for Koori youth and for the broader community, helping to reduce re-offending and turn offenders away from crime,” Mr Clark said.

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

Koori Courts involve elders and respected persons sitting with the Magistrate as part of a discussion about an appropriate sentence. The Magistrate then determines and imposes the sentence.

Mr Clark said the establishment of Koori Courts had been a success around the state, with the Dandenong court the 19th Koori Court across all court levels in Victoria.

“Koori Courts also mean Aboriginal communities are engaged in the justice system, helping deliver better outcomes for their communities and the broader public,” Mr Clark said.

In order to be sentenced in the Children’s Koori Court, a young person who is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander must plead guilty to, or be found guilty of 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 11 children’s Koori Courts employ 19 Aboriginal people, with an additional 80 elders and respected persons assisting the court.

The Dandenong Children’s Koori Court will sit within the Dandenong Children’s Court building.