15 anniversary Neighbourhood Justice Centre NJC
Neighbourhood Justice Centre 15th celebration

Friends and colleagues past and present recently joined the Neighbourhood Justice Centre to celebrate 15 years drawing on community justice to improve community safety and wellbeing.

The NJC opened in 2007 as a three-year experiment in something called community justice, which was a relatively new idea in the USA where centres like our template and inspiration, Red Hook Community Center, were chipping away at crime through grassroots justice interventions.

Fifteen years later, the NJC is part of the fabric of Yarra life, an International Mentor Court in global community justice movement, and a member of the Specialist Courts and Programs division of the Magistrates’ Courts of Victoria.

As the Neighbourhood Justice Centre is the sum of many parts, this anniversary is a tribute to the organisations that comprise it and who work with some of the state’s most vulnerable, marginalised, and at-risk people.

Many of our clients live under the weight of addiction, mental and physical traumas, and intergenerational hardships, maladies that on a broader scale adversely affect pockets of the Yarra community.

Whether one person, one street or one neighbourhood, the road to recovery is often long, arduous and exhausting, and for every one step forward, some take two steps back.  And at every step of the way, the NJC is there to lay down the steps required for each client and community to land on solid ground.

The NCJ has been one of Australia’s most closely monitored and reviewed justice centres. In one of the most comprehensive reviews (External link), the Australian Institute of Criminology found our model delivered significantly low reoffending rates, significantly successful completion of Community Corrections Orders, and significantly low rates of breaches, and high compliance with treatment and support. 

We hope the organisations that comprise the NJC understand what they have achieved because the results we enjoy are down to the extraordinary work and dedication of staff who work within the community justice model.

We thank Launch Housing, NEAMI, Berry Street, Orange Door, Merri Health, CoHealth, St. Vincent's Mental Health, Odyssey House, MiCare New Hope Foundations, Carlton Fitzroy Counselling Service, No To Violence, Yarra Youth Services, Emergency Mental Health, Uniting Services and services who’ve worked here in the past.

We also thank the Victoria Legal Aid, Fitzroy Legal Services, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Services, and the Community Corrections based at the NJC for finding ways to collaborate to give clients a fighting chance at reform.

Over the years we have worked together to deliver a raft of important service innovations, including the FVIO Online and judicial monitoring which were developed here and rolled out across courts. We’re proud that our Neighbourhood Justice Officer role and our Problem-Solving Process are formative to MCV’s nascent Navigation Team, and grateful to work in an environment that shares our sense of innovation.

We thank our colleagues across MCV for their support and collegiality.

Over the years, we have learned much and drawn inspiration from colleagues in the worldwide community justice network.  Indeed, we adopted the Peacemaking program and Community Adviser Panel from our Red Hook friends.

We are extraordinarily proud and humbled to be an International Mentor Court in community justice.  Our commitment to this title is to be a transparent and generous mentor, and humble pupil in return.

This anniversary is also for the international community justice movement.

As a community justice centre, the NJC contributes to increasing the safety and wellbeing of Yarra by working with a plethora of community groups, and local services.

There are far too many people and organisations to name here but we thank each of you for sharing your experiences, knowledge, skills and ambitions for Yarra with us.

We are proud of our excellent relationships and partnerships, and we remain committed to being a generous, open, and helpful friend and colleague for many years to come.

Finally, we want to thank the residents of Yarra.

You have decorated our walls with your art, shared your many cultural riches with us, and of course, put your trust in us to deliver the justice you need.  Thank you.

A justice centre —more to the point, a community justice centre — is foundational to a safe and flourishing community.

Thank you to each and every person who has contributed to fifteen years of community justice in Australia.

We thank Chief Magistrate, Justice Lisa Hannan, CSV CEO Simon Hollingsworth, Specialist Courts & Programs Director Jane Craig, Chair of the Adult Parole Board and NJC’s first Magistrate, Magistrate David Fanning, Yarra mayor Sophie Ward, and other guests who attended our recently anniversary event. 

Top row photos from left: Chief Magistrate, Justice Lisa Hannan and Magistrate Noreen Toohey cut the cake; local musicians Isaac and Steve; Magistrate Toohey welcomes guests; Second row from left: Chair of Adult Parole Board and NJC's first magistrate, Magistrate David Fanning; Director Specialist Courts & Programs, Jane Craig, CSV CEO Simon Hollingsworth, and NJC GM Rachel Powning; artist ChingChing and Justice Hannan; Wurunderji man Thane Garvey welcomes guest to country; Fitzroy local, Mark.