Victoria’s newest County Koori Court has been unveiled in Warrnambool, with Aboriginal Elders set to play a major role in the region’s justice system.
Chief Judge Peter Kidd said it was a great honour to launch the opening of the new court in partnership with the Warrnambool Koori community.
“The Koori division of the County Court acknowledges the importance of incorporating Aboriginal communities’ cultural beliefs and practices into our justice system,” Chief Judge Kidd said.
“It results in better engagement with the justice system for Aboriginal Victorians, assists offenders address the causes of their offending, and protects the community by helping prevent re-offending.”
Judge in Charge Irene Lawson said the Koori Court provides an opportunity for Elders to speak directly with offenders.
“It’s about discussing the importance of offenders changing their behaviour,” Judge Lawson said.
“Offenders can only come into the Court if they plead guilty and consent to participate in a process that involves engaging with Elders and Respected Persons from the Aboriginal community.”
The new court will begin to hear matters from 25 November 2019.
The County Koori Court began sitting in the Latrobe Valley in 2008. Since then it has expanded to Melbourne in 2013, Mildura in 2016 and Shepparton in 2018. Warrnambool is an important next step along the path to full statewide coverage.
Aboriginal Elders and Respected Persons are appointed from each region where a County Koori Court is located.