A Neighbourhood Justice Centre for Western Australia? – A Feasibility Study

Associate Professor Sarah Murray1

1 University of Western Australia Law School, M253, 35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley WA 6009, sarah.murray@uwa.edu.au

Neighbourhood Justice Centres (NJCs) are community-based, problem-solving justice institutions, designed to create better outcomes for individuals while also reducing social disadvantage, non-compliance with court orders and imprisonment rates. They do this by creating a ‘one-stop’ justice hub that integrates the local community, service providers and justice personnel. While Australia’s sole NJC site is in Collingwood, Victoria, the feasibility of a demonstration project in Western Australia is the subject of an 18 month study being undertaken by the UWA Law School, Anglicare WA and the Community Legal Centres Association (WA).

This presentation will detail the current study and its early findings. Working with a cross-disciplinary advisory group, the project will assess the extent to which the justice environment in Western Australia differs from the Collingwood NJC, the costs, benefits and possible locations for such a project and how justice service provision might be more sensitive to the needs and interests of Aboriginal communities. Ultimately, the project will make recommendations about the prospects of a Western Australian demonstration project and the extent to which court-based service provision can be expanded with or without a NJC pilot.

Biography:

Dr Murray is an Associate Professor at the University of Western Australia and teaches and researches in public law with key expertise in constitutional law, legal institutional change and less-adversarial reform. Her work is particularly focused on the way the legal institutions and court processes can change and adapt to meet social needs without compromising their institutional and constitutional legitimacy.  She completed her PhD at Monash University, in 2011 and her thesis was awarded the 2011 Mollie Holman Doctoral Medal for Law and was published as a monograph, “The Remaking of the Courts – Less-Adversarial Practice and the Constitutional Role of the Judiciary in Australia” (Federation Press, 2014). She has particular interest in Neighbourhood Justice Courts and was awarded the 2015 Institute of Advanced Studies Distinguished UWA Early Career Research Fellow for her work in this space.

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