Non-adversarial Criminal Justice in Australia: Surviving, Reviving and Thriving

Arie Freiberg1,

1 Faculty of Law, Monash University,

This paper examines the history and evolution of problem-oriented courts and various intervention or diversion programs in a number of Australian jurisdictions.

Since their inception, not so many years ago, some courts and programs have survived changes of government, some have thrived and expanded, some have changed in form while others have been abolished and revived.

Criminal justice is a political exercise. As with other areas of contentious public policy, it is subject to changes in government, ideological fashions and budgetary constraints. Non-adversarial justice initiatives are particularly vulnerable in those jurisdictions where the penal climate is feverish and problem-oriented approaches to crime are regarded as being ‘soft on crime’, ineffective or too expensive.

Australian drug courts, mental health courts, indigenous courts, family violence courts and various court lists and programs continue to evolve in the light of practice, experience, internal and external evaluations and the accumulation of evidence locally and from overseas.

Through the use of case studies, this paper will discuss the dynamics of law reform in the sphere of non-adversarial criminal justice.


Arie Freiberg is an Emeritus Professor at Monash University.  He was Dean of the Faculty of Law at Monash University between 2004 and 2012.  Before this, he was Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne in 2003.  he was appointed to the Foundation Chair of Criminology at the University of Melbourne in 1991 where he served as Head of the Department of Criminology between January 1192 and June 2002.  In 2013 he was appointed an Emeritus Professor of the University.

His particular areas of expertise are sentencing, non-adversarial justice and regulation.  He has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School (2014) and Tel Aviv University (2008) and served as a consultant to the Federal, Victorian, South Australian and Western Australian governments on sentencing matters as well as the Australian and South African Law Reform Commissions.  He has also consulted for a number of state government agencies and departments on regulatory reform.

He has around 140 publications in areas such as sentencing, confiscation of proceeds of crime, tax compliance, corporate crime, juries, juvenile justice, sanctions, victimology, superannuation fraud, trust in criminal justice, commercial confidentiality in corrections, dangerous offenders, the role of emotion in criminal justice and public policy, drug courts, problem-oriented courts, non-adversarial justice and regulatory theory.

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