Welcome Magistrate Noreen Toohey

The Neighbourhood Justice Centre welcomes Magistrate Noreen Toohey, our second magistrate in our 15-year history, and Australia’s second community justice judicial officer.

An advocate for therapeutically focused justice, Magistrate Toohey will be a driving force behind the expansion of our community justice practices, from our problem-solving court to our community engagement.

“I’m really excited to be here. The NJC is a consolidation of everything I value in good justice: integrated support services, a solutions-focused mindset, and involvement in community life,” said the Magistrate.

Magistrate Toohey brings to the NJC over 16 years’ experience working in Melbourne’s large western suburbs court, eight years in regional Victorian courts, and two years at the Melbourne’s Coroners’ Court as a coroner.

She has been the Regional Coordinating Magistrate for the Sunshine region and Lead Magistrate in Ballarat Court’s Specialist Family Violence Division. Prior her appointment as magistrate, Noreen Toohey was in private practice and later a solicitor at Victoria’s Office of Public Prosecutions. A member of the Victorian Magistrates’ Family Violence and Family Law Portfolio Committee, Magistrate Toohey has an Order of Australia honour for services to the law as an advocate to the safety of children and families. 

While the criminal justice system has always been a dominant voice in relation to protecting public safety, Magistrate Toohey says that it is increasingly one of many voices working to improve public safety.

“When I first became a lawyer, little children were required to appear in court. In fact, they were required to stand in the witness box and cross-examined in front of the accused.

"Today, courts like the NJC’s explore the hidden traumas that underpin offending behaviour and as a Magistrate I can refer people to potentially life-changing support services.  This synthesis of therapy and appropriate procedural justice will continue to evolve and the NJC will be a critical voice in the process,” Magistrate Toohey said.

Magistrate Toohey is also a strong advocate of alternative dispute resolution processes, and says initiatives like NJC’s Peacemaking Program, a collective problem-solving process for low-level conflict resolution, have the potential to be a game-changer in reducing local harm.

“The court can be a blunt instrument, particularly for the sort of conflicts that we’re all capable of resolving without calling in the police or ending up court.  I would like to see justice support programs like NJC’s Peacemaking be part of the community.”  

We are very proud of NJC's close ties to the community, and the Magistrate says she is looking forward to joining the conversations that are enhancing Yarra. 

At Sunshine Magistrates Court, she championed programs such as the Youth Community Law and proactive crime prevention initiatives and has worked with community leaders and services to address the risk factors that contribute to offending behaviour.

The Magistrate has a deep reverence for multi-cultural society and is proud of Yarra’s diversity of languages and cultures, which, she says, combine to enrich the community. 

Magistrate Toohey fills the shoes left by NJC’s first and long-serving Magistrate David Fanning, who is now at Melbourne’s Magistrates’ Court.

This year we're celebrating our 15th anniversary and Magistrate Toohey will a key part of the next iteration of our journey.