​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 (intra and interstate). The Nunga Court influenced the development of Aboriginal Sentencing Conferences with the amendment in 2005, to the Criminal Law Sentencing Act 1988 providing for Aboriginal Sentencing Conferences in all jurisdictions (s.9C). 

Aboriginal Justice Officers (AJOs)

The Courts Administration Authority employs 10 Aboriginal Justice Officers working across a range of locations and courts. AJOs are based at:
  • Port Adelaide
  • Adelaide 
  • Elizabeth
  • Youth Court 
  • Port Augusta

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 re procedures, fines, payment options and JP services
  • providing advice to Judicial Officers re Aboriginal culture and communities
  • recruiting, training and supporting Elders
  • assisting with family conferences for youth in Northern area
  • delivering community education about CAA Aboriginal Programs and employment and the role of AJOs 

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Aboriginal Sentencing Courts and Conferences

The CAA operates Aboriginal Sentencing Courts in Port Adelaide, Murray Bridge, Mount Gambier and Port Augusta. Aboriginal conferencing occurs on a monthly basis in Port Lincoln and Aboriginal Sentencing Conferences are available pursuant to s.9C of the Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988, in all jurisdictions.

Nunga Court Port Adelaide

  • Operates on Tuesdays once per month
  • Defendant pleads guilty - for sentencing only
  • Charges relate to Port Adelaide area
  • Elders present - sit with Magistrate
  • Less formality - opportunity for D to speak directly to Magistrate
  • Family members encouraged to attend and speak directly to Magistrate
  • Support agencies encouraged to attend

Nunga Court Murray Bridge and Nunga Court Mount Gambier

  • Operates every 2 months
  • Same criteria as Port Adelaide

Port Augusta Aboriginal Sentencing Court

  • Operates every 2 months
  • Less formality
  • Elders present and sit with Magistrate
  • Family members, victims and support agencies encouraged to attend
  • AJOs undertake an assessment of the Defendant re suitability

Port Lincoln Aboriginal Conferencing – Joint initiative with Conferencing Unit LINK to Conferencing Unit information re Port Lincoln Aboriginal Conferencing

  • Operates monthly (when conferences are referred) on a Monday
  • Conference is held out of court, without Magistrate
  • Attendees are defendant, victim, Elders, family members, support agencies, Prosecution, Conference Coordinator (Family Conference Team) and AJO
  • Facilitated by Conference Coordinator and AJO
  • Report of conference given to Magistrate on following Wednesday for consideration in sentencing
  • Supported by Youth Justice Coordinator (Family conference Team) and AJOs.
  • LINK to Conferencing Unit information re Port Lincoln Aboriginal Conferencing

Aboriginal Sentencing Conferences

s.9c Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988
  • 2005 amendment to the CLSA - s.9c which allows for any court to hold an Aboriginal Sentencing Conference
  • Conferences conducted in Supreme Court, District Court, and Magistrates Courts
  • Judicial Officer attends with Elders, Defendant, Prosecution, D’s lawyer, victim invited, AJO
  • AJO assist with convening conference
  • Family members and support agencies encouraged to attend
  • Defendant can speak directly to Judicial Officer
  • Generally held in a conference room - not a court room

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 NCJA Indigenous Justice SA Committee and Aboriginal staff within the CAA.

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Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training

  • 2 day course mandatory for all new staff, and new Magistrates also attend
  • Delivered every 3 months
  • Presented by CAA Aboriginal staff

See the Careers section for further information

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NCJA Indigenous Justice - SA Committee

  • Judicial committee chaired by Supreme Court Justice
  • 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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