Public Interest Law Careers Guide - Koori Court

Field of Law

Justice system; Indigenous

Stage of Career

Secondary students; Undergraduates; Practising lawyers

Contact Details

Address: Koori Court Unit, Level 6, 223 William Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Mailing address: GPO Box 882, Melbourne VIC 3001
Phone: 03 9032 0946
Visit the Koori Court page on the Magistrates Court website
Contact person: Travis Lovett
Email: travis.lovett@justice.vic.gov.au

Description of Court/Tribunal

The Koori Court has been created under the Magistrates Court Act 1989. It operates as a division of the Magistrates' Court, which sentences Indigenous defendants.

The Children's Koori Court was established under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005. The Koori Court provides an informal atmosphere and allows greater participation by the Aboriginal (Koori) community in the court process.

The County Koori Court has been established under the County Court Amendment (Koori Court) Act 2008. The Act was assented to on 23 September 2008 and provides for the establishment of the Koori Court as a Division of the County Court.

The County Koori Court draws on the successful implementation of the Koori Court model in both the Magistrates' Court and the Children's' Court.

Koori Elders or Respected Persons, the Koori Court Officer, Koori defendants and their families can contribute during the Court hearing. This helps to reduce perceptions of cultural alienation and to ensure sentencing orders are appropriate to the cultural needs of Koori offenders, and assist them to address issues relating to their offending behaviour.

The Koori Court is currently located at Bairnsdale, Broadmeadows, Latrobe Valley, Mildura, Shepparton, Swan Hill and Warrnambool Magistrates' Courts.

Children's Koori Courts are located in Melbourne and Mildura.

Koori County Court is located in Melbourne and Morwell

The Koori Court Aims to:

  • Increase Koori ownership of the administration of the law;
  • Increase positive participation by Koori offenders;
  • Increase the accountability of the Koori offenders, families, and community;
  • Encourage defendants to appear in Court;
  • Reduce the amount of breached court orders;
  • Deter offenders from re-offending;
  • Increase community awareness about community codes of conduct and standards of behaviour; and
  • Explore sentencing alternatives prior to imprisonment.

The Koori Court Model:

  • The court is more informal.
  • The Magistrate/Judge sits at a large table with all other participants in the case, not at the bench;
  • The defendant will sit with his or her family at the table, not in the dock; and
  • Participants will talk in 'plain' English rather than using technical legal language.

Information for secondary schools

Do you have work experience placements for secondary school students?

Yes

Contact person for work experience placements: Travis Lovett

Do you host school trips or send speakers to schools?

Yes

Contact person for school trip and/or speakers: Travis Lovett

Information for university students/graduates

University students can sometimes sit in on Koori Court proceedings and observe. Contact the relevant Court in advance to seek permission.

Employment in the Court is mostly in the form of Koori Court Officers, or in administration.

Koori Court Officers co-ordinate the preparation of all Koori Court sittings, provide assistance and support to Aboriginal accused persons, engage and support Koori Court Elders and promote the Koori Court Model to the Koori and general community. They also provide advice and support to the Court and relevant staff, in relation to services and programs that are available to assist Aboriginal accused before the Koori Court.

There are also non-legal positions such as Koori Youth Justice Workers who provide access for young Aboriginal offenders to appropriate role models and culturally sensitive support, advocacy and casework, and the Koori Liaison Officer Program which aims to address the over representation of Indigenous people in the Victorian Justice System, and to assist Aboriginal people to maximise their chances of rehabilitation through culturally appropriate and sensitive intervention.

These positions may require youth work or psychology qualifications rather than legal qualifications, but law units may still be useful.

Are there volunteer/internship opportunities available?

Yes

Contact person for volunteers: Travis Lovett

Information for practising lawyers

What are you looking for in a permanent employee?

The applicant has to be of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, able to service the Koori Court, and must have knowledge of community local services and community issues.

What prior work is viewed favourably?

As above

On average, how many positions become available per year?

2-3

How many applications do you receive for these?

6

Where do you advertise your positions?

Koori mail and Careers page of the Victorian Government website

Do you use a recruitment agency?

No

Advice for applicants:

Understanding of local Indigenous Victorian communities and understanding of the koori court is viewed favourably.

Being able to effectively communicate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander is required.

Castan Centre logo

Progressive Law Network logo

Victoria Law Foundation Grants logo