Murri court opens in Rockhampton
The first of 13 Murri Courts was formally launched in Rockhampton to reinstate diversionary court options for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Queensland.
Born out of the passion of Elders, community justice groups and the dedication of magistrates, the court provided access to culturally-competent service providers and referral pathways to address the underlying causes of criminality.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said Murri Courts are an important tool in diverting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people from the criminal justice system, where they remain over-represented in Queensland.
“Murri Courts first began operation in 2002 in response to the disproportionate number of ATSI people who were incarcerated in Queensland jails but ceased their vital function after being axed by the previous LNP government in 2012,” Mrs D’Ath said.
Police Minister Bill Byrne said it was exciting for Queensland’s first reinstated Murri Court to be in his home city of Rockhampton.
“Murri Courts require offenders to work hard, to take responsibility for their offending and recognise the impact that their actions have on the wider community,” Mr Byrne said.
“Participants in Murri Court are encouraged to speak in “plain English” rather than legal jargon, and the magistrate speaks directly to the offender and takes advice from Elders and Respected Persons.”
The Murri Court is a Queensland Magistrates Court available to sentence eligible ATSI offenders who have pleaded guilty. It is presided over by a magistrate, and supported by local Elders or Respected Persons who provide cultural advice to the magistrate.
She said sitting allowances will be paid to Elders and Respected Persons who provide cultural advice to magistrates in Murri Courts to recognise their significant contribution to the process.
“This is a vital change to the way we administer criminal justice in Queensland and an important step to closing the gap in our community,” Mrs D’Ath said.
13 April 2016.