Who we are
The Neighbourhood Justice Centre’s (NJC) court is multijurisdictional, that is, it is the venue for two courts.
- Magistrates Court. (hears criminal, and family violence/personal safety matters)
- Children’s Court (criminal division)
Its multijurisdictional status also includes two tribunals, which are:
- Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal
- Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal
The NJC’s Magistrates’ Court hears most summary criminal offences, and family violence and personal safety matters.
A specialist court
The NJC is part of the Magistrates’ Courts of Victoria specialist court division.
Like all Magistrates’ Courts, the ultimate decision regarding the sentencing order resides with our Magistrate—that is, the offence is still dealt with.
However, as a specialist court, the focus is on stopping—or at the very least slowing down—the ‘revolving door’ of crime and punishment by addressing the reasons or conditions that contribute to offending behaviour.
Many people who come before our court present with issues, such as mental health issues, acquired brain injury, substance addition, and face significant social disadvantages.
The NJC’s court addresses these highly complex issues by linking people to the NJC's onsite services, which include substance abuse, mental health, family violence, homelessness and financial hardship.
The court also monitors people as they through the justice system so it encourages or intervene as necessary.
- Unlike mainstream courts, only one Magistrate hears all matters. This enables the Magistrate to build consistent, strong relationships with people to promote positive changes.
- Court is conducted with little formality and technicality as possible. For example, a defendant sits at the bar table beside their lawyer to encourages greater understanding, compliance and responsiveness to the sentence imposed. And is conducted in plain language so everyone understands the proceedings.
- When making sentencing decisions, the Magistrate may gather information from anyone deemed appropriate e.g. a health service provider, a community corrections officer, the victim, or relative of the defendant.
- The Magistrate can defer sentencing an adult offender (up to the age of 25-years of age) to assist the person therapeutically or through our problem-solving program.
- Our court only hears matters involving defendants who live in (including people experiencing homelessness), or if a member of the Aboriginal community, have strong connections to Yarra.
- Judicial monitoring: the Magistrate may 'check in' with a person on a community corrections order (or released on adjournment with/out a recorded conviction). This gives the court another way encourage the person, or intervene if necessary.
- Court assists break the cycle of offending by giving people the opportunity to develop their own practical, achievable goals.
The Magistrates' Court of Victoria encourages students, citizens, and anyone who works in a justice-related field to observe justice in action.
Know what to expect by preparing first. Or contact the Centre on (03) 9948 8777.
Courts Legislation (Neighbourhood Justice Centre) Act 2006 Act No. 51/2006