Innovating for better justice outcomes
The NJC opened in 2006 as a three-year pilot. Over a decade later, our work continues to have a significant impact on the safety and harmony of our community, improve access to justice, and validates restorative and therapeutic practices in court.
Here is a snapshot of the innovations that underpin these outcomes.
Therapeutic and restorative approach to justice delivery
The Neighbourhood Justice Centre Act (2006) legislation compels the NJC Court to act in a therapeutic and restorative manner, with as little formality and technicality as possible. These provisions assist people who come before our court to participate as fully as possible in their matter, and improves procedural justice more broadly.
The NJC sits as two courts (Magistrate's Court, and a criminal division of the Children's Court Criminal Division) and two tribunals (Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal, and a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal).
This multi-jurisdictional model supports a broader range of services, networks partners more effectively, and reduces the stigma of attending court more effectively than the sole jurisdiction model.
Court preventing crime
Our court is involved in reducing crime in a number of ways including court practices such as judicial reviews and case management (External link) , with clients referred to services as early as possible, and supported for as long as necessary.
Integrated in-reach service model
We provide the widest range of treatment and support services in any Australian court, with support spanning health, addiction, housing, employment, migration, family violence, Koori support, and mediation.
A unique model, Client Services is provided by external providers contracted in from local agencies as well as a number of staff employed directly by the NJC. This one-stop-shop also enables the NJC to connect clients to, and stick with, local services, and stay linked to their community.
Fundamental to the community justice approach is the ability for the justice system to respond to local issues through partnerships with community and partner agencies. This approach enables the NJC to strengthen connections and increase civic participation in civic life.
Community use of the NJC
The NJC is designed for community groups, residents and locally-based not-for-profits to use, even while court is in session. The Centre also includes a children’s playroom and a not-for-profit kiosk. The design is integral to fostering trust in, connection with, and access to, justice.
Our security team act as the front-of-house concierge service as well as security, and there is always a security guard roving the Centre inside and out. This security model supports a mix-use building, and reduces the stigma and stress that typically accompanies court centres.