Registry Planning Process in a Community Justice Model

Mr Damian James1

1Neighbourhood Justice Centre, Collingwood, Australia

The Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC) is home to a multi-jurisdictional Court supported by a Registry staffed by three Registrars, one Trainee and a Neighbourhood Justice Officer (NJO). The NJO is a legislated position within the Court unique to the NJC which acts as conduit between the Court, support services and community partners.

The NJC operates within a Community Justice framework. The court is underpinned by legislation that requires it to apply therapeutic and restorative approaches to the administration of justice.

The NJC Registry model emphasises customer service as a facet of the Community Justice Model. Commitments to delivering community justice outcomes are additional to ‘ordinary’ Registry activity and thus must be managed within the threshold of tolerance of the available resources.

In early 2015, the NJC Senior Registrar hatched the idea of running a one-day planning event involving the five Registry staff and with the aim of forward planning. This planning day was an important step in identifying, with greater clarity and specificity, workload challenges, the threshold issues that arise from them and how effectiveness and efficiency targets may be impacted in the short and medium term.  It was an opportunity to review operations and reflect on work culture, and conduct ongoing planning.

The 2015 meeting generated a statement of values and principles that in a clear and well communicated way aligned Registry operations with the Community Justice Model. A further outcomes was the resolve to make Registry Planning Days an ongoing annual event. The recent 2016 Planning Day refined and streamlined the process, while incorporating greater components of future planning and problem solving.

This paper will describe the process and reflect on the outcomes of Registry Planning processes in a Community Court setting.


Damian has 28 years of Court administration experience. During his career, Damian has worked at the following Victorian jurisdictions: Magistrates’ Court, Supreme Court, County Court, Childrens’ Court, Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), and for the past 8 years has been the Senior Registrar at the Neighbourhood Justice Centre, Collingwood. Australia’s only community justice centre.

Damian has a passion for delivering quality customer service and leads a high functioning team working in a multi jurisdictional court utilising the principles of therapeutic jurisprudence.

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,

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.


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.

The Neighbourhood Justice Centre – 10 years on

Mr David Fanning1

1Neighbourhood Justice Centre, Collingwood, Australia

The Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC) opened in Collingwood, Victoria in early 2007 to serve the residents of the City of Yarra. It was and remains the first of its kind in Australia.

There was a high level of enthusiasm and energy from those associated with the NJC as well as many members of the Yarra community when the NJC commenced. Equally there was a level of apprehension and in some quarters, opposition to the establishment of the NJC.

The paper explores the origins and the reasons for the creation of the NJC which centred on a number of aims and concepts including community justice, therapeutic jurisprudence, problem solving, restorative justice, addressing the underlying causes of offending, improving confidence of all participants – victims, accused, respondents, witnesses and the community at large – in the justice system, contributing to the reduction in re-offending and decreasing the breach rate of community correction orders along with contributing to cultural and procedural change in the broader justice system.

Having explored the origins and reasons for the NJC, the paper exams the challenges that were encountered with the establishment of the NJC and the responses to these challenges. It also examines the outcomes of the 10 years of work – both the very favourable outcomes and successes as well where the outcomes were not as anticipated.

The paper seeks to provide knowledge and insight into the NJC over the past ten years with particular emphasis on providing conference participants with an opportunity to learn from the NJC experience and utilise these learnings in their own jurisdictions.


Brief CV – HH Magistrate Fanning

Appointed a magistrate in 2006, he has sat as the Neighbourhood Justice Centre there since early 2007. Also appointed a Senior Member of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) and has subsequently been appointed a judicial member of the Adult Parole Board. Immediately prior to his appointment, he was the Commissioner for Children in Tasmania have been at the Victorian Bar for 14 years where he practised in criminal law, family law and child welfare law as well as coronial work. Having first qualified as a social worker, he worked in mental health, public welfare and child protection.  He holds degrees in Arts, Law and Social Work as well as postgraduate studies in Criminology.

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