Local Heros, by Spenser Street Primary School children
Integrating service for multi-disciplinary effect
Alongside our Magistrates' Court, the NJC's 'one-stop-shop' model includes around 16 or so community services who work as a united team we call Client Services.
The team provides our clients with help ranging from housing, addiction recovery , mediation, mental health care, financial counselling, family safety , men's behaviour change , help for refugees and people newly arrived to our shores and more.
Bringing these services together under one roof benefits clients and staff alike. Here's why.
Client Services comprises staff employed by the NJC, and case workers from other community service providers who have desk space here.
This ‘embedded integrated services’ model as we call it is efficient and effective.
- Clients have a single point of entry: a referral to one is a referral to any and all. This saves clients repeating the story of their circumstances over and over.
- Reduces the number of meetings that clients and case workers need to attend.
- Saves clients the impost of travelling from one part of town to the other. For people whose lives are chaotic the simpler the treatment pathway, the better the outcome
- Clients are engaged and have plans in train before they leave the building. For people going through the court, this rapid triage approach can be a significant turning point
- Case workers can segue clients from the Centre to appropriate services in their community with ease and without disrupting treatment progress. This helps clients navigate the social services sector with greater ease.
- Working in multidisciplinary teams produces treatment plans that everyone agrees and understands
- 'Bridge the gap' care: if there's a delay getting a client into community-based support we support the client until the gap is filled.
For staff, the model means they can:
- Share information, skills and resources and case loads: co-authoring court reports and collaborating on paperwork makes for faster, efficient, and lighter workloads.
- Share the responsibilities of managing complex clients: this can significantly reduce stress and fatigue that all too often burns out case workers.
For the NJC as an organisation, the model makes us a hub for the services based across our community and taps us into the changing social services landscape.
It was found that in excess of 80% of referred clients engages rate with Client Services. (The number of mainstream treatment programs operating in Victoria is significantly lower)
The re-offending rates of Client Service clients was also found to be significantly lower than matched cohorts and lower than those reported by in mainstream court treatment programs.
While community justice has historically been implemented in areas with high volume of low tariff offending, the NJC’s cohort is disproportionately composed of high risk offenders being twice that of the state wide average of community correctional sites.
High levels of NJC clients sentenced to Community Corrections Orders managed at the Centre have been engaged with the Client Services pre-sentence and as such are engaged with services/supports at the point of transition to Corrections Victoria.
Breach rates of NJC clients are significantly lower than the state-wide average with the greatest differences being evident in the moderate and high risk offending cohorts.
"Before joining the NJC, I’d been frustrated by how long it took me to refer clients to other services. Delays often led to my clients’ problems escalating and they missed opportunities to progress.
It was trying for all of us, not least because I was working with vulnerable people who trusted me to support them to move forward with their lives.
When I started here I remember the speed and ease of the assessment and referral process amazed me. Here’s just one example:
The financial counsellor referred a client to me. I saw him a short time later and we identified a training course to enhance his employment prospects.
The court Registrar certified the required documents and statutory declarations, and we got the client enrolled in the course.
On top of this, my client disclosed mental health issues so I referred him to the psychologist for assessment, who saw him next. The Salvation Army officer also supported him with material aid.
My client has recently secured full time work. Without this level of timely interventions the outcome may well have been different.
For me NJC’s ‘one-stop-shop’ supports people to move forward with their lives, and it’s extremely gratifying to see the relief on clients’ faces when they their issues are being taken seriously and responded to promptly".
Linda, NJC-based caseworker
 Ross, S., Australian Institute of Criminology, Evaluating neighbourhood justice: Measuring and attributing outcomes for a community justice program, 2015, p.5
 Morgan, A., Brown, R., Australian Institute of Criminology, Estimating The Costs Associated With Community Justice, 2015
 Ross, S., ibid., p. 5
 Ross, S., ibid., p. 5
 Ross, S., ibid., p. 5