This information provides an overview of the Aboriginal justice initiatives occurring within the CAA under the banner of Aboriginal Programs. These initiatives first started in 1993, with Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training, and notably the appointment of three Aboriginal Justice Officers in 1998, increasing to 10 in 2010. The first Aboriginal Sentencing Court in Australia (Nunga Court) began operation at Port Adelaide Magistrates Court in 1999, and has expanded into other locations (intrastate and interstate). The Nunga Court influenced the development of Aboriginal Sentencing Conferences with the amendment in 2005 to the Criminal Law Sentencing Act 1988, the adaption of the Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988 to the Sentencing Act 2017 providing for Aboriginal Sentencing Conferences in all jurisdictions. 

Aboriginal Justice Officers (AJOs)

The Courts Administration Authority employs 6 Aboriginal Justice Officers and 2 Youth Aboriginal Justice Officers working across a range of locations and courts. They are based at:
  • Adelaide
  • Elizabeth
  • Port Adelaide 
  • Port Augusta
  • Youth Court 

As well as their base courts, AJOs service the following courts in the metropolitan, regional and remote areas:

  • Metropolitan: Christies Beach
  • Regional: Berri, Murray Bridge, Port Lincoln, Ceduna, Coober Pedy, Whyalla, Port Pirie, Leigh Creek, Kadina, Maitland
  • Remote: Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY) and Yalata.

Their role includes:

  • assisting with Aboriginal Sentencing Courts/Conferences.
  • providing advice to Aboriginal court users regarding procedures and JP services.
  • providing advice to Judicial Officers regarding Aboriginal culture and communities.
  • recruiting, training and supporting Elders and Respected Persons.
  • delivering community education about CAA Aboriginal Programs and employment and the role of AJOs. 

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Youth Aboriginal Justice Officer

Youth Aboriginal Justice Officers (YAJO) are situated in the Youth Court Registry. The YAJOs are responsible for the development, delivery, monitoring and review of culturally sensitive services to Aboriginal youth, families and the Aboriginal Community.

For further information on YAJOs please click on the following link. Youth Aboriginal Justice Officer

 Aboriginal Sentencing Courts and Conferences

The CAA operates Aboriginal Sentencing Courts in Adelaide, Elizabeth, Port Adelaide, Murray Bridge and Port Augusta on a referral basis. Aboriginal Sentencing Conferences are available pursuant to Section 22 of the Sentencing Act 2017 in all criminal jurisdictions.

Nunga Court - Port Adelaide

  • Operates fortnightly on a Tuesday.
  • Defendant pleads guilty to an offence that can be finalised in the Magistrates Court.
  • Sentencing only.
  • Charges relate to the Port Adelaide area and also in the following circumstances, when a defendant consolidates guilty plea files from another court to Port Adelaide Nunga Court or when the defendant either lives in or has a continuing connection with the Aboriginal community in the area serviced by the Port Adelaide Magistrates (Nunga) Court.
  • Elders and Respected Persons present - sit with the Magistrate.
  • Less formality - opportunity for the defendant to speak directly to the Magistrate.
  • Family members are encouraged to attend and speak directly to the Magistrate.
  • Support agencies are encouraged to attend.

Nunga Court - Murray Bridge

  • Operates 8 times a year.
  • Same criteria as Port Adelaide.

Aboriginal Sentencing Conferences

Sentencing Act 2017 - Section 22

22 - Sentencing of Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander defendant.
(1) Before sentencing an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander defendant, the court may, with the defendant's consent, and with the assistance of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice Officer -
(a) convene a sentending conference; and
(b) take into consideration views expressed at the conference.
 
  • Allows for any criminal court to hold an Aboriginal Sentencing Conference.
  • Conferences conducted in Supreme Court, District Court, Magistrates Courts and Youth Court.
  • Judicial Officer attends with Elders, Defendant, Prosecution, Defendants lawyer, victim invited, AJO.
  • AJO assist with convening the conference.
  • Family members and support agencies are encouraged to attend.
  • Defendant can speak directly to the Judicial Officer.
  • Generally held in a courtroom.

 

Aboriginal Community Courts

The Aboriginal Community Court provides a culturally appropriate forum for Aboriginal defendants to undertake an intervention program. The courts promote an alternative to detention for Aboriginal defendants with mental health and behavioural problems such as substance dependence.

Aboriginal Community Court Eizabeth (ACCE) - commenced April 2017

  • Operates every month.
  • Defendant agrees to participate and engage in treatment to address issues that bring them before the courts. Issues may include illicit substance dependence, alcohol dependence, and/or mental health/mental impairment issues that are related to their offending behaviour.
  • Elders present - sit with the Magistrate.
  • Defendants attend court to review progress whilst engaging in treatment.
  • Defendants are supported by a Senior Case Manager through the Treatment Intervention Program.
  • AJO assists the defendent and their families with information about the court processes such as bail conditions, fines and referral to Court Programs.

 Aboriginal Community Court Adelaide (ACCA) - commenced August 2019

  • Operates every month.
  • Defendants agree to participate and engage in treatment to address issues that bring them before the courts. Issues may include illicit substance dependence, alcohol dependence, and/or mental health/mental impairment issues that are related to their offending behaviour.
  • Defendants may have matters sentenced without undertaking a program.
  • Elders present - sit with the Magistrate.
  • AJO assists the defendent and their families with information about the court processes such as bail conditions and fines.

In addition to the work of Aboriginal Justice Officers and Aboriginal Sentencing Courts and Conferences, Aboriginal Programs also provides support for Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training, the NJCA Indigenous Justice - SA Committee and Aboriginal staff within the CAA.

 

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NJCA Indigenous Justice - SA Committee

  • Judicial Committee chaired by a Supreme Court Justice Officer.
  • Members from Supreme Court, District Court, Coroners Court, Federal Court and Magistrates Court.
  • Raises Aboriginal cultural awareness amongst Judicial Officers through presentations, workshops and community visits.

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Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training

Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training is currently not available.