Edition #29

PIPA Project wrap up

Following the launch of the PIPA Project report in Victoria in March – just a week or so before we all disappeared down the pandemic rabbit hole – the interest in this valuable project has not abated. Over the ensuing six months, CIJ Associate Director and PIPA Project Lead, Elena Campbell, has continued to conduct online workshops with a range of Victorian and interstate service collaborations who have been eager to hear how they can respond with greater nuance to this complex issue. 

While Elena had also been looking forward to travelling back to Tasmania and Western Australia during 2020 to promote the findings and support our interstate project partners, these partners instead joined her in online webinars – exploring the project’s findings as they relate to the Tasmanian and Western Australian experience. These webinars received fantastic support from ANROWS – including through expert facilitation by ANROWS CEO, Heather Nancarrow – and were attended by audiences from around Australia. 

In the Tasmanian webinar, Elena was joined by University of Tasmania academic Dr Helen Cockburn, a PIPA Project Partner, Brittany Clark, a youth lawyer from Legal Aid Tasmania and Toby Stoddart from Colony 47, a service which has delivered a service intervention for adolescents using family violence. 

In the WA webinar, Elena was joined by Magistrate Sarah Dewsbury from the Children’s Court of Western Australia, also an original PIPA Project partner in her former legal practice role; Dr Victoria Hovane, a Professor from the University of Western Australia, registered psychologist and Aboriginal woman from the Kimberley region, who’s research around intergenerational trauma is widely recognised; and Claire Rossi and Michael Hovane from Western Australia Legal Aid who each brought decades of vital practice experience and family violence expertise to the discussion. 

Both webinars reflected the panels’ combined commitment to advocacy on issues impacting children and families experiencing family violence, as well as a passion for a more nuanced legal response. Elena wishes to take this opportunity to thank ANROWS; the panellists; the PIPA Project partners, and all those who have contributed to the research and related discussions across the three jurisdictions and beyond. It has been great to see the interest and support continue since the project’s inception in 2017, through our visits interstate in 2017 and 2018 and now through participation and attendance at the webinars. We look forward to maintaining these strong relationships with some genuinely fabulous collaborators in years to come. 



PIPA related work continues

Directly related to the PIPA Project, the CIJ’s Elena Campbell and Riley Ellard have also continued work supporting the design and evaluation of a program providing pre-court support to adolescents using family violence. This project was funded by the Legal Services Board of Victoria and is being delivered by Youthlaw as the lead agency. The CIJ has designed a Program Logic, Monitoring and Evaluation Framework and is working with local service providers to ensure that the voices of young people are safely and ethically featured in the program’s evaluation. The CIJ team looks forward to the commencement of program delivery in 2021. 

Financial Counselling and Gambling Harm

Following the CIJ’s completion of its Financial Counselling pilot - in which a financial counsellor was seconded to deliver services to women in the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre through the Mental Health Legal Centre – the CIJ is delighted that the MHLC has now engaged its own financial counsellor as part of its core staff and ongoing service model. 

To support the further integration of financial counsellors in other community legal settings, the CIJ has released a Practice Guidance to provide a blueprint for other legal centres seeking to integrate financial counselling into their practice. This Practice Guidance was developed with the support of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, which funded the original Financial Counselling pilot, and with the advice of Financial Counselling Victoria. 

Because 39% of the Financial Counselling service clients were identified as having experienced some form of gambling harm, the CIJ has also released an Issues Paper looking at contact with the criminal justice system as a form of gambling harm. This builds on its 2017 report, Compulsion, convergence or crime: criminal justice system as a form of gambling harm to capture evidence and case law which has emerged since the 2017 report’s release, as well as to highlight the increase in gambling harm which may be experienced across the community in the wake of the pandemic-related economic downturn.
To this end, the CIJ is also pleased to be exploring options for further work in this area with legal service providers, with more to come on that front in a future update. 

Decriminalising public drunkenness

The Centre for Innovative Justice is pleased to be contributing to the Expert Reference Group to inform the Victorian Government’s commitment to decriminalising public drunkenness. The Reference Group was appointed to provide advice on replacing Victoria’s public drunkenness offences with a health-based response. The commitment to decriminalise public drunkenness follow the coronial inquest into the tragic death of Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day and is consistent with the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The Centre’s expertise in human centred justice policy and disability justice has informed our contributions to this important reform. Work will continue on the reform into 2021.
Open Circle internship - my experience

By Eliza Hew

My name is Eliza Hew and I am a third year Juris Doctor & Master of Social Work student. For the past 10 weeks I have been completing an online internship at Open Circle (Centre for Innovative Justice) as a credited subject for my JD degree. Following preliminary discussions between Open Circle and Forensicare (Victoria’s leading forensic mental health provider) to discuss opportunities to embed restorative justice practices within forensic mental health settings, I have been researching to create a grounding piece of work on this topic. 

Historically, people with serious mental illness have not been included in restorative justice practices, with exclusion hinging on the assumption that this population do not have the capacity to meaningfully participate. More recently however, literature suggests that this assumption is unsubstantiated (and discriminatory); there exist significant potential benefits for patients, staff, victims and the broader community. 

My research has culminated in a report, which outlines the key practice considerations for any restorative intervention in this setting, including the risks, challenges and conflict that may arise. The report also details the range of restorative justice options that are available for implementation, drawn from the (few) practice models that currently exist in Australia and overseas. While practice in this area is certainly new, potential benefits are being identified and momentum seems to be growing.

In addition to this project work, I have been (virtually) attending Open Circle’s weekly team meetings, which has facilitated exposure to the day-to-day occurrences at Open Circle, including conference referrals, program work and practice conversations. The internship has facilitated my knowledge in areas of law, social work and has given me a taste of what it’s like to be a part of a restorative justice service.

Social Work Student update

Despite ongoing COVID restrictions, social work field education placements have continued for many social work students in semester 2, 2020, albeit from home. The Mental Health Legal Centre (MHLC) is fortunate to have two Field Education 2 final year Master of Social Work students currently on placement. Read Madeleine Grigg's and Irene Dao's reflections on the challenges they faced and innovative ways of adapting undertaking a remote placement.

"I was able to do client work over the phone, and build relationships with staff members, even though we have never met in placement partner and I were able to support each other, which is crucial at a time like this. Group supervision was invaluable and provided us with a space to critically reflect on our practice."
- Madeleine Grigg

"Working from home has placed such an emphasis on the importance of self-care. It was important that I established effective self-care strategies in order to prevent burnout and recognize my own triggers. I was fortunate to have supports put in place for me to debrief about the challenges I was facing, as well as my personal feelings and thoughts, such as peer support supervision." 
- Irene Dao

Restorative Justice Online Taster Placement

This semester, CIJ have moved our taster placement opportunities to an online format. This online taster placement gave RMIT students a chance to understand how Open Circle and the Neighbourhood Justice Centre use restorative justice to heal relationships and achieve better outcomes for their clients and the community. You can watch a recording of the placement here.

Less than five per cent of coronavirus fines issued by Victoria Police paid in full
By Jack Paynter, The Age, 12 October 2020
Featuring CIJ's Stan Winford

Lawyers call for Fines Victoria director to oversee coronavirus infringement review process
By Jack Paynter, Herald Sun, 15 October 2020
Featuring CIJ's Stan Winford

Exploring the 'COVID-normal' user-experience in justice and healthcare
Space for Change - Social Innovation Hub Podcast Series
Featuring CIJ's Riley Ellard


Applied Innovation in Action
Space for Change - Social Innovation Hub Podcast Series
Featuring CIJ's Rob Hulls

Raising the criminal age of responsibility – panel discussion
CIJ invites you to this panel discussion on what is an important issue now and for future generations.
Date: 4pm Thursday 22 October
Register here
International Conference of Legal Regulators - In Search of Solutions, not Sanctions: A Look at How Australia Applies Restorative Justice Principles to Legal Regulation
Date: Thursday 29 October at 9pm, Speaker includes CIJ's Stan Winford.
Register here

Victim Services Review Launch
This is a launch of CIJ's Victim Services Review Report commissioned by Victorian Department of Justice & Community Safety. You can find more info about the project here.
Date: Tuesday 10 November at 5pm
Registration info to be provided

Australian Lawyers Alliance/CIJ/Justice Reform Initiative - Beyond prison: Smarter justice options - Webinar Series
The need for new approaches to criminal justice – A therapeutic response - a panel discussion
Date: Monday 16 November, 1pm-5.30pm

Register here

Global Leadership Experience Program for RMIT Students: November
This program consists of three credentials earned over a four-day intensive program of workshops and a final credential earned once the learner completes a reflective assessment three months following the workshop. 
Wednesday 18 November at 1.20pm, Immersion panel discussion on CIJ work: Elena Campbell, Stan Winford, Anna Howard, Michael Haralambous      
Thursday 19 November at 4.30pm, Keynote address: Rob Hulls

More info
Stay safe! 

- CIJ Team
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