Warrumbul Circle Sentencing Court

Circle sentencing courts are specialised courts within the ACT Magistrates or Children’s court where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can have their sentencing matters heard by a Magistrate, alongside a panel of respected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders. In the ACT there are two circle sentencing courts – Galambany for adults and Warrumbul for young people.

The Warrumbul Children’s Circle Sentencing Court (Warrumbul Court) is an alternative model of sentencing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people attending the ACT Children’s Court. It is a type of restorative practice that aims to provide culturally relevant and effective sentencing options for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (10-17 years) by incorporating Elders and cultural aspects into the Children’s Court. The name ‘Warrumbul’ was gifted to the court by the United Ngunnawal Elders Council.  Warrumbul means ‘youth’ in Ngunnawal language.

You can attend Warrumbul Court if:

  • You identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person;
  • You have pleaded guilty to the alleged offence;
  • The offence is one which the relevant court can hear (and is not sexual); and
  • You want and agree to go through the process

A referral to Warrumbul Court involves a young person undergoing a Family Conference with a panel of community Elders that will determine their suitability for circle sentencing as well as assessing any underlying issues in the family or young person’s life that may be contributing to their offending. After the conference, the young person will either go forward to sentencing or begin a rehabilitation pathway.

A rehabilitation pathway will include the young person and their family, the Magistrate, Elders and specific government and community services designing an individualised plan. The plan will tackle any issues that are contributing to the young person’s offending behaviour or quality of life. The plans will last either 3, 6, 9 or 12 months and are likely to involve aspects of education, employment and health. Upon completion of the plan, the charges maybe dropped, or the young person will be sentenced with the completion of the plan considered as part of the sentencing process.

The Elders contribute their recommendations and cultural knowledge to the Magistrate during sentencing.

For more information please contact:

The Warrumbul Court Coordinator Phone: 6205 2396
Email: WarrumbulCoordinator@act.gov.au
GPO Box 158 Canberra ACT 2601