Access to the Supreme Court and Magistrates Court for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT
Any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person attending court for any reason is welcome to approach the front counter to request assistance regarding their attendance at court. Court staff cannot provide legal advice, but they can put people in touch with other organisations which may be able to assist with support or advice.
There are a number of support services that assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people interact with the Supreme Court and Magistrates Court. These include Legal Aid ACT, Aboriginal Legal Service, Domestic Violence Crisis Service, Victim Support ACT, Prisoners Aid ACT, ACT Women’s Legal Centre, Canberra Rape Crisis Centre.
Wider justice related support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT are outlined on the Justice and Community Safety Directorate website at www.justice.act.gov.au which includes the ACT Human Rights Commission, ACT Ombudsman and ACT Public Advocate.
Court Diversion and Sentencing Programs in the ACT
The following links provide information about criminal diversion and sentencing programs in the ACT
Family Violence Protection Orders
Legal Aid ACT have lawyers based in the ACT Magistrates court to provide free assistance to persons regarding family violence matters. The Domestic Violence Crisis Service also has support staff located at the courts to assist complainants in family violence matters. Both organisations have Aboriginal Liaison Officers that can provide assistance when requested. Please telephone the ‘Legal Aid ACT - Domestic Violence and Personal Protection Order Unit’ at the Magistrates Court on (02) 6207 1874 or the Domestic Violence Crisis Service on (02) 6280 0900 for further information.
Support for Complainants and Vulnerable Persons
Support throughout the court process for complainants is available through Victims Support ACT on 1800 8222 72 and the Director of Public Prosecutions on 6207 5399. Please contact these organisations for further information about the support available.
”Vulnerable witness suites” are a facility for vulnerable complainants and other persons to give evidence via an audiovisual link rather than in the courtroom. The Court Assistance Officer is able to provide pre-court tours by appointment on (02) 6205 0322.
Activities by the Courts to improve access to Court services
On 9 May 2017 the ACT Courts Cultural Diversity Committee hosted a workshop with key agencies and non-government organisations to identify practical measures that would improve accessibility to the courts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT.
Fifty-five stakeholders participated in the workshop representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations, legal services, youth services, family violence services, key justice agencies and the courts. The outcomes of the workshop are summarised in the Consultation Report.
Following the workshop the Supreme Court adopted a Strategic Plan to Facilitate Access to the Court for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in the ACT and the ACT Courts Cultural Diversity Committee endorsed the ACTCT 2017/18 Action Plan on Access to Courts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander People in the ACT.