Marram-Ngala Ganbu: We are one

Mr  Ashley Morris1, Maistrate Kay Macpherson1

1Children’s Court of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

The establishment of a Koori Hearing day list in the Family Division of the Children’s Court of Victoria was a recommendation made by the Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry in 2012. This recommendation followed the identification of the need for such an initiative by the Aboriginal Justice Forum (AJF23) in March 2009 given the high rates of removal of Aboriginal children from their families

Data indicates that there has been a 59 per cent increase in the number of Victorian Aboriginal children in out-of-home care from 2013 – 2015. A review also found that over 60% of children in out of home care were placed with a non-Aboriginal carer and over 40% of children with siblings were separated from their brothers and sisters.

The Marram-Ngala Ganbu Koori Hearing day aims to improve outcomes for Koori children involved in child protection proceedings by providing a culturally appropriate process to assist in decision making. Marram-Ngala Ganbu also sets out to improve adherence to the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle set out in the Children’s Youth and Families Act 2005

This session will describe the development of the Koori Hearing day pilot, challenges faced in setting up such a court and discuss the future of Koori Hearing day’s in the Family Division of the Children’s Court of Victoria


Ashley Morris is a Gunditjmara man from Victoria with ties to Dublin Ireland. Born in Traralgon Victoria and then moving to Brisbane, Perth, and Wodonga before relocating to Melbourne in 2011, Ash is currently the Koori Services Coordinator at the Broadmeadows Children’s Court. In this role he is responsible for the development and implementation of the Marram-Ngala Ganbu Koori Hearing day pilot.

Ashley started his working life at the Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation in Wodonga where he started as a Trainee Administration officer before moving into the Position of Koori Youth Justice Worker where he run a number of diversionary programs and assisted Young Aboriginal people on youth justice orders.

While in Melbourne Ash held a number of positions including the Broadmeadows Koori Court Officer, Community Corrections Officer, Koori Men’s Family Violence Court support and Coordinator of Koori Programs in the Koori Court Unit.

Kay MacPherson – 

1974 – 1978 Melbourne University ( Bachelor of Law )
1979   – Articles with Brian Ward and Co, Solicitors
1980  – Commenced at the Public Solicitor’s Office which then became Legal Aid Commission and then Victoria Legal Aid
1990 – Appointed head of the Criminal Law Division at Victoria Legal Aid
1991 – Appointed a Magistrate|
1994 – 2008  –  Sat at the Dandenong Magistrates Court in the criminal jurisdiction including the Dandenong Drug Court.
2008  –  Commenced sitting in the Children’s Court
Currently – Regional Co-ordinating Magistrate at the Broadmeadows Children’s Court and head of the Family Drug Treatment Court and the Koori Hearing Family Day Court ( Marram – Ngala Ganbu)
2012 – Appointed as member of the Adult Parole Board of Victoria
2014 – Appointed as Patron of Youth Education Support Inc.

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