Queensland’s Murri Court helping to make change happen
Tuesday, 6 October 2020
The newest addition to the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council’s Doing Justice Differently series is an animated video that focuses on sentencing in the Murri Court.
The specialist Murri Court delivers a culturally appropriate court process that respects and acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, refers defendants to support services that address the underlying contributors to their offending, and provides magistrates with information about defendants’ personal and cultural circumstances.
Bevan Costello, Chair of the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel and a Murri Court Elder, said the Murri Court is a combination of support, action and ownership.
“It sees Elders and Respected people from the community work closely with the Murri Court magistrates, the defendant and their legal representatives to help keep families together, enable offenders to work through their issues, make better choices, reduce the risk of reoffending and help keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people out of prison,” Mr Costello said.
“An important aspect of the Murri Court is reconnecting people with culture and understanding their personal and cultural circumstances that might have contributed to their offending.
“The video explains about the support we give our mob through the process and back in the community where they can yarn to Aunties and Uncles – as Murri Court Elders, we encourage them to make positive changes in their lives and make sure they are held to account,” Mr Costello said.
Chair of the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council, John Robertson, said the new video shows how through the Murri Court process, before a defendant is sentenced, they are encouraged to take responsibility for their offending and increase their awareness of the consequences of their actions for victims and the community.
“Linking people with Elders and culturally safe support services, suitable Murri Court participants can access help that includes counselling, improving skills through education and training, having health checks for physical and mental wellbeing, going to alcohol and drug programs if needed, and going to men’s or women’s groups and yarning circles,” Mr Robertson said
In developing the Doing Justice Differently series and working with the specialist courts, the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council is focusing attention on the many ways the court system is working to invest in people to keep communities safe.
Mr Robertson said, “The Murri Court video highlights how the court is inclusive and responsive to culture and how it is working to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our criminal justice system”.
The Murri Court video is the third in the Doing Justice Differently series, with the first video focusing on the Queensland Drug and Alcohol Court and the second video highlighting the Court Link program. This video series is part of the Council’s ongoing work to inform and educate the community about sentencing in Queensland.