Artwork: "I’m In Smith St" by Anne Warren

Collaborating to prevent crime 

While the Neighbourhood Justice Centre's court attends to the aftermath of crime, our Crime Prevention & Community Justice team (CP team) addresses broad-scale issues that stem from, or lead to, crime and social disruption.

As with all of our work, our community work involves collaborating with the cornerstones of the community—local councils, local government agencies, local police, local businesses, local welfare networks, and local schools.

This collective approach to improving public safety enables us to draw on professional expertise and resources and community networks, engage similar processes and achieve common goals.

The range of stakeholders required, and issue to be resolved, defines the role we play in the community. That is we are:

  • Lead drive all stages of a project, with input and involvement from key partners and stakeholders.
  • Support provide advice, materials and/or funding, or attend events as a show of support.
  • Broker bring groups together.
  • Builder provide forums, workshops or training to encourage information exchange, professional development and local collaboration.
  • Participant take part in local or issue-based networks, forums, workshops and committees to foster understanding, build relationships, and provide information about the work of the NJC.
  • Host showcase and celebrate the identity and achievements of local communities by holding events and activities.
  • Advocate champion local justice across government and community agencies.

In all, we advocate collaboration as the only way for justice to develop a better ear for, and give a helping hand to, people who need concerted assistance.

Why we collaborate

In the community justice framework, crime as a series of problems to be solved not, as is the case in traditional justice, a contest to be won. Community justice practitioners build on the strengths and attributes of individuals, groups and communities.

Community justice eschews 'label and blame’( ‘troublemakers’, ‘low achievers’ and ‘anti-social’, 'potential criminal') preferring the strengths-based aproach which draws on the capacity, skills, knowledge, connections and potential inherent in all individuals and communities.

Our community work starts with forging 'principled relationships' with those affected by crime and harm as the first step on the long road to community recovery.

Without doubt, community-based work is time-consuming, challenging, sometimes confrontational, and requires patient, skilled facilitation and a high degree of self-reflection. But laying the groundwork is worth the effort: such relationships establish our stakeholder's confidence in our team's neutrality and our commitment to the cause.

Importantly, in forging values-based relationships, we garner deep intelligence about the social, cultural, and political contexts that shape community, and this knowledge helps us negotiate through conflict.

Communities that Care project and Smith Street Dreaming illustrate collaborative problem solving approaches to enhancing public safety.

Focus of work

Our Crime Prevention & Community Justice team focuses on:

  • Access: increase confidence in and access to the justice system in the City of Yarra.
  • Partnerships: proactively build partnerships and collaborate with stakeholders across Yarra to plan, develop and implement targeted responses to identified issues.
  • Practices: put into practice community justice principles through building the relationships, capacity and social capital required to:
    1. strengthen community cohesion
    2. repair the damage from crime
    3. proactively prevent conflict, harm and crime
    4. support communities to defend their own interests and act as key agents in a stronger, safer community.
  • Innovations: drive innovative approaches to community justice work in Yarra.
  • Education: facilitate professional development and community education opportunities.
  • Evaluation: evaluate crime prevention and community justice initiatives to inform the planning and implementation of future projects and activities.
  • Advocacy: advocate for community justice practices to be applied across the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria as well as local, national and international justice communities.