The Neighbourhood Justice Centre's court is multi-jurisdictional. That is, the one courtroom is a venue for:

In appropriate matters, our court draws on therapeutic and problem-solving techniques to address people to resolve the conditions that play a part in why they are in court. And to do this, our court works alongside a wide range of services also based at the Centre, including drug and alcohol dependency services, mental health, and housing to name a few.

Together our court and our treatment services help people to make meaningful and positive changes in their lives, and to help victims heal.

    Our Magistrates' Courts hears matters that involve people who live in Yarra (or are experiencing homelessness and living here at the point of being accused of offending) or in the case of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, can show a strong connection to the areas.

    Part of the Magistrates’ Courts of Victoria network, our court hears the following types of matters:

    • criminal matters and traffic offences
    • money claims and civil disputes
    • family violence and personal safety intervention orders

    With the exception of Filing Hearings, Summary Hearings, and Committal Mentions, our court hears the following:

    • Mentions 
    • Contest mentions
    • Diversions
    • Ex parte hearing
    • Pleas (guilty plea / consolidated pleas)
    • Deferral
    • Application for bail
    • Breaches of orders

    The Magistrates' Court (External link) website has information on the full range of matters heard.

      Informal, practical, accessible justice

      The NJC's court is legislated to conduct matters with as little formality as possible so everyone (accused/offenders, and victims) participate as fully as possible, and find solutions to the issues that lead people to court in the first place.

      One-Magistrate-one court

      One magistrate hears all court matters at the NJC.

      In this way, our Magistrate understands the social conditions that shape, and are shaped by, the people who come before the court.

      It also means that repeat offenders answer to the same magistrate and while there's no hiding from a broken promise to reform, we found that  people do make positive changes when the person in charge of sentencing understands the conditions that factor into repeat offending.  

      As we say, court shouldn't be the end of the road, it should be the beginning of a new start.

      One table for all

      Unlike most other courts, the accused/offender sits at the bar table beside their lawyer.

      It can be challenging, but we want people to participate as fully as they can in their hearing. After all  the decisions being made in court affect the lives of the person before the court, and many others, including family and friends.

      Keep it simple

      Our Magistrate and lawyers use plain, easy to follow language so everyone understands what's going on. And if someone is lost, the Magistrate will take the time to explain things more clearly.

       * Courts Legislation (Neighbourhood Justice Centre) Act 2006 Act No. 51/2006

      Treatment 

      Many people who come before our court present with complex issues such as drug addiction and forms of trauma or social disadvantage, which contribute to their offending or would hamper rehabilitation and reform if left untreated.

      As appropriate our Magistrate (or our duty lawyers) refer clients to the treatment services provided by our Client Services (External link) team.  

      Our clients get the right treatment and support, as quickly as possible, which gives people a greater chance of successfully completing their court orders.  

      Promoting change, and protecting the community 

      As part of a Community Corrections Order (a sentence serviced in the community) or an order releasing an offender on adjournment with or without recording a conviction, the court may attach a condition that the offender is to be monitored by the court.

      This condition is applied when the court is satisfied that it's necessary to review the offender's compliance with the order, and it's called Judicial Monitoring.

      As part of judicial monitoring, the court will require or invite the offender to answer questions, or provide information (such as medical tests), or seek information from the person's Community Correctional Services case manager or anyone else the court considers appropriate.

      After conducting a review hearing, the court may cancel or vary the monitoring condition, including changing the duration of the condition, the timing of review hearings and the information that must be provided on future reviews. Alternatively, the court may leave the condition in place and unchanged.

      At our court, the offender will sit at the bar table in the courtroom with the Magistrate,  their case worker, and anyone else the court requires. It's part of the court process, but the court isn't in session.

      While the process is used to protect the community, it's also another way the court can assist an offender to stick to vital treatment and support, and exit the justice system.

      Collaborative problem solving

      To assist clients to stick with their programs or become stable enough to start treatment, we provide a Problem Solving Meeting, a simple, practical, collaborative way to find out what is going on in a person’s life, and to come up with a plan to get on track.

      Facilitated by our Neighbourhood Justice Officer, the process involves the client with, among others, their case worker, legal representative, and family or friends coming together to understand what circumstances need to be addressed and how.

      Together, the group develops practical activities to get the client back on track.

      Our Problem Solving meeting is unique to the NJC, and it works. We encourage any client who is referred to it, or would like to refer themselves, to grasp the opportunity to participate with both hands. 

      If you're interested in knowing more read more here (External link).

      Observing court

      It's only through seeing court in action that the complexity of how and why the justice system functions, who it serves, and who it helps becomes clear.

      The Magistrates' Court of Victoria encourages students, citizens, and anyone who works in a justice-related field to observe justice in action.

      Read more about what to expect here (External link). If you have any questions, our Justice Education or Justice Communication team will be happy to help. Contact njc@courts.vic.gov.au (External link)

      Sitting days

         Monday
          Family violence/personal safety; criminal matters
         Tuesday
          VCAT
         Wednesday
          Criminal and mention lists
         2nd Wednesday of the month
          Special circumstances (2pm)
         Thursday
          Criminal list  
         1st Thursday of the month 
          Contest mentions
         4th Thursday of the months
          Aboriginal Hearing Day
         Friday
          Children's Court; VCAT.   (Victims of Crime Tribunal as needed)