Support for Therapeutic Justice project

Magistrate Parson and Sejal AminOur Therapeutic Justice project recently drew on the advice and support of its Shepparton-based Reference Group and a visit to the Neighbourhood Justice Centre and the Drug Court, both in Melbourne.

The Therapeutic Justice Program held its first TJP Reference Group Meeting earlier this month. The Reference Group provides high-level support and advice to the project. It will ensure that our Therapeutic Justice Project receives timely advice on emerging issues and provides information about our program and Therapeutic Jurisprudence back to stakeholders.

Membership of the Reference Group includes the EO of ARC Justice (of which Goulburn Valley CLC is a program), a staff member from Goulburn Valley CLC, the CEO of Primary Care Connect and a staff member from Primary Care Connect.

To ensure integration with relevant service providers, the Reference Group has consulting members. At the June meeting, we had representatives from Goulburn Valley Health, ACSO, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Justice and Regulation, Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative, Victoria Legal Aid, Victoria Police, and Her Honour Ms Stella Stuthridge representating the judiciary.

Earlier this month Sejal Amin (our Therapeutic Justice Lawyer) and David Johns (our Therapeutic Justice Case Manager) visited the Neighbourhood Justice Centre and the Drug Court in Melbourne to observe Therapeutic Jurisprudence in practice. These visits will help us to develop a preferred model for our Therapeutic Justice Program in the Goulburn Valley.

The Neighbourhood Justice Centre is a community court co-located in the City of Yarra with relevant services and presided over by a single Magistrate. The court improves community safety by focussing on offender rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.

The Drug Court, a division of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria, provides for the sentencing and supervision of the treatment of offenders with a drug and/or alcohol dependency who have committed an offence under the influence of drugs or alcohol or to support a drug or alcohol habit. The Drug Court, like the Neighbourhood Justice Centre, seeks to improve community safety by focusing on rehabilitation and reintegration.

Sejal and David observed the mutual respect between the Drug Court Magistrate and offenders on Drug Treatment Orders and the benefits that flow from that relationship in terms of offender compliance with orders.

Sejal and David thank Magistrate Tony Parsons (Drug Court) and Deputy Chief Magistrate Jelena Popovic (Neighbourhood Justice Centre) for generously finding the time to talk with them about putting Therapeutic Justice principles into practice.

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