Edition #22

Victims Services Review update 

The first phase of the CIJ's review of Victoria's victim services system has to date included consultations with more than 100 professional stakeholders who work with victims of crime.

These workshops and interviews have highlighted the depth and breadth of expertise within the sector, as well as the complexity that victims of crime can be faced with when seeking support. In addition to the complexity of the system itself, a key theme of consultations with professional stakeholders has been the interplay between victimisation and other forms of identity or vulnerability that may shape the capacity of some victims of crime to access appropriate supports. This includes for elderly people, people with disability, people from LGBTIQ+ communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, refugees and asylum seekers, and people experiencing homelessness. We have also seen a clear acknowledgement from the sector that in some instances,  victims of crime may themselves have histories of offending and that, vice versa, people in contact with the criminal justice system have often experienced violence. This illustrates the need for a system that responds in a holistic way to the diverse presenting needs of victims of crime. 

From the beginning of July, the focus of the review has shifted to qualitative research with victims of crime. This is an important opportunity for us to hear directly from service users about their needs and their experiences of the victim services system. These conversations are directly informing our recommendations to the Department of Justice and Community Safety on how the system can be strengthened to ensure victims of crime are able to access the supports they need, at the right time and in a way that works for them. We look forward to delivering the final Stage 1 report to the Department later next month.

Integrated Counselling and Case Management Program design

The CIJ will be providing further support to the Magistrates' Court of Victoria's (MCV) family violence reforms through the design of the Integrated Counselling and Case Management (ICCM) program.

This program responds to recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence, which called for perpetrators of family violence to be able to be referred to a wider range of interventions than is currently available.

It also builds directly on the work that the CIJ conducted for the MCV in 2018, in which we developed and designed a single, best practice model for the Court Mandated Counselling Order Program (CMCOP) across Specialist Family Violence Courts. 


Children’s Court of Victoria Service Delivery Reform Project

The CIJ is supporting RMIT's Graduate School of Business and Law (GSBL) and Huddle Design Consulting, which have been engaged by the Children’s Court of Victoria to guide the Court’s recently established Service Delivery Reform Project. The Project aims to use use human-centred design to improve the experiences of all Children's Court users and to encourage their collaboration towards better outcomes in the Court’s system.  

RMIT GSBL and Huddle, in consultation with the CIJ in an advisory function, will lead a service reform project over 18 months to explore challenges and opportunities in relation to the Children’s Court.  

The project will be delivered in three phases:


Input will be sought from Court users, including Magistrates, court staff, external professionals and the children and their families who come through the court, throughout the duration of the project. 

Professor Ingo Karpen from RMIT GSBL is the lead consultant on the project, with support from CIJ Project Officer Leah Deery, RMIT GSBL and Huddle staff.

Supporting Justice update & new Voices for Justice program

The CIJ and our design partners Paper Giant were pleased to deliver the Supporting Justice online resource to the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services as scheduled on 30 June. The project team is now working on a launch and plans for promoting the website which will be announced shortly. 

Meanwhile the CIJ is excited to announce that we have partnered with the Self Advocacy Resource Unit (SARU) and been successful obtaining a grant to develop and deliver the Voices for Justice program to support people with disability and lived experience of the criminal justice system to be self-advocates. The Voices for Justice program will adapt the Voice at the Table (VATT) training for people with cognitive disability and lived experience of the criminal justice system with guidance and support from the CIJ. 


New York Study Tour – a grand success!

With so much excitement and anticipation in the build-up, the 2019 inaugural New York Innovative Justice Study Tour certainly did not disappoint. 
In late June, ten JD students joined the CIJ’s Rob Hulls and Student Program Manager Kate Ottrey for a week touring some of the best criminal justice initiatives across New York and New Jersey. Our generous hosts at the Center for Court Innovation created a thought-provoking and inspiring itinerary with visits to community courts at Red Hook, Newark and the Bronx, and Community Solutions in Brownsville. 

The overwhelming message we heard time and again was the power of procedural justice and the importance of non-legal services which keep people out of the justice system – housing, employment, social welfare, mental health treatment, drug treatment and community.

For a full wrap of the week, including photos, videos, check out our daily study tour blog.

You can also catch up on our Talking Innovative Justice podcast “Justice in the USA” where Rob Hulls interviews social justice advocate and former Rikers Island Prison inmate Kathy Morse, and Vincent Schiraldi from Colombia University, about lessons Australia could learn from the American experience of mass incarceration.

Financial Counselling update 

Since they started in May, our new Financial Counsellors Sarah Davidson and Raylene Carnie have been busy setting up a financial counselling service within the Inside Access program run by our partners at the Mental Health Legal Centre. 

After meeting with key staff at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre earlier this month, we are pleased to announce that Sarah and Raylene will begin offering financial counselling services to women at the prison from late July. This support will be offered alongside and complementary to the existing financial counselling and other services within the prison. 

In addition, RMIT Financial Counselling students will be starting placements as part of this service in early August, giving them a unique opportunity to work within the justice system as part of our integrated practice model, alongside social work and law student placements. 

The Financial Counselling position shared by Sarah and Raylene is funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation to deliver services to women in the criminal justice system affected by gambling. 

Other student placements  

Meanwhile, 13 law students doing our Semester 1 Taster Placement were lucky enough to witness a dramatic day at the Court of Appeal in May, when Justices Priest, Hargrave and Emerton quashed a police officer’s County Court conviction by jury for common law assault and attempting to pervert the course of justice, allowing for his immediate release from prison. You can read more about the case in this article in The Age newspaper.

Prior to the court proceedings, the students had to opportunity to speak to the three appellate Justices about their careers and life on the bench. Throughout the visit, we also spoke to a Judicial Registrar, a court lawyer and the defence legal team and had a tour of the Supreme Court Library. For many of the students, this was their first time inside a courtroom. Students observed that the conversational style of the interactions between the bench and the bar table were most unlike the rhetoric they had expected to hear. 

As Semester 2 gets into gear, we have 10 students doing Clinical Legal Education and Social Work Field Education placements with Young Workers Centre and our partners at the Mental Health Legal Centre and the Law and Advocacy Centre for Women


Where are they now?

Poppy Jacobs completed the RMIT Juris Doctor in 2017.

The CIJ had a chat with her to see what she's been up to since.

When did you graduate, what have you been doing since then? 
I graduated in 2017, did my PLT through the College of Law and was admitted to practice in March this year. Towards the end of my law degree, I got my first legal job as a legal assistant at a private personal injury firm, and also did some work at RMIT as a tutor and research assistant. I’m now working as a solicitor at the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office, which I’m really enjoying.   

Restorative Justice & Fisheries crime prevention

The CIJ has long been convinced that there are almost limitless possibilities to the contexts in which restorative justice processes can be helpfully used. Increasingly, we are seeing a wide range of organisations reaching out to the CIJ to consider how RJ might complement the work they do. 

For example, in June the Victorian Fisheries Authority invited the CIJ’s Stan Winford and Nareeda Lewers to present at the Fisheries Crime Prevention Conference on the topic ‘"Restorative Justice: what is it, and what opportunities might restorative approaches offer for Fisheries organisations?"

Stan and Nareeda explained that as well as responding to criminal offences, the Authority could use restorative approaches to identify and account for the interests of communities affected by breaches of environmental protection laws.

The presentation was well attended, with a lively discussion amongst attendees about potential applications of restorative justice to the Authority's work.

Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry hears from Woor-Dungin 

The Victorian Parliament’s Legal and Social Affairs Committee is holding an inquiry, chaired by Fiona Patten MP, into the need for a spent convictions scheme in Victoria. The Committee has been specifically tasked with inquiring into the impacts of criminal record discrimination on Aboriginal people.

Members of Woor-Dungin’s Criminal Record Discrimination Project appeared before the Committee in Melbourne on 1 July 2019 to speak about their recommendations for reform, as set out in their submission to the Aboriginal Justice Forum.  

New CIJ Staff 

We have had three new staff joining the team since our last newsletter!

L-R Leah Deery, Jasmine Ali and Catherine Caruana

Leah Deery is a Project Officer who will share her time between the CIJ and RMIT’s Graduate School of Business and Law supporting the Children’s Court of Victoria Service Delivery Reform Project.

Jasmine Ali is a Research and Advocacy Officer who has come on board to work on our review of Victim Services for the Victorian Department of Justice & Community Safety.

And Senior Adviser, Research and Advocacy Catherine Caruana will also be supporting our Victims Services Review.

You can read more about all our staff here.

Legal privilege & interdisciplinary practice 

Our Senior Adviser Research and Advocacy Nareeda Lewers features in the latest Law Institute Journal writing about the role of legal professional privilege in interdisciplinary legal practices.

As this model of service delivery becomes more commonplace, with lawyers working alongside social workers and other professions to better meet the needs of clients, it has become apparent that some information may not be covered by legal professional privilege. This means it could be subpoenaed and used against clients.

You can read Nareeda's article "Where Professional Privilege is Blurred" via the link below:


Victoria's prisons in the spotlight

The CIJ welcomes a recent series of articles in The Age by Royce Millar and Chris Vedelago that shine a spotlight on the upward trend of Victoria’s prison population. The Saturday Paper too has taken a look at the issue – what has brought us here, why it’s a problem, and what can be done to fix it.  The articles also feature some expert commentary from our Associate Directors Elena Campbell – on record numbers of incarcerated women - and Stan Winford, on the role of rehabilitation in our prison system. Hopefully such media attention will help make the case for the changes that are urgently needed to turn our prison numbers around.

Criminal Records, Employment Discrimination & Aboriginal Communities

The next event in RMIT Law’s twilight seminar series is on Criminal Records, Employment Discrimination & Aboriginal Communities. 

The speakers at this event are CIJ's Associate Director Stan Winford along with his GSBL collaborator Professor Bronwyn Naylor & fellow Woor-Dungin team member Wenzel Carter. You can find out more about these speakers, and make a booking for the event here. Don't miss it!

Date: Thursday 22 August 2019
Time: 5.30 to 7.00pm
Venue: The Oxford Scholar 
             Building 81, Level 1
             427 Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

For more information and bookings 

2019 Higinbotham lecture
Craig Foster on sport & human rights: can sport change the world?

Every year RMIT celebrates the legacy of politician and Chief Justice George Higinbotham (1826-1892) through a public lecture that explores topical legal issues, in particular, the interaction between the law and society.

Human rights campaigner and former Socceroo captain Craig Foster will deliver this year’s Higinbotham Lecture on the topic of Sport and Human Rights: Can Sport Change the World? 

For more information and bookings 


2018 Annual Review out now!

The CIJ’s 2018 annual review is now live!

With a recap of everything that happened including our innovative research projects, life-changing student activities and topical and lively events and discussions, it was certainly an action-packed year.

You can relive all the highlights via our website or pick up a hard copy at the CIJ office.

CIJ out and about

Coming up are the following CIJ speaking engagements:

23 July - Adolescent Family Violence,  Drummond Street. Speaker: Elena Campbell
24 July - Magistrates’ Conference (presenting Supp. Justice). Speaker: Stan Winford

25 July – Metropolitan Law Talks,. Speaker: Rob Hulls
26 July – Law Institute of Victoria, Crimial Law Conference. Speakers: Rob Hulls and Nareeda Lewers

22 Aug - RMIT Law Seminar Series - Criminal Records, Employment Discrimination & Aboriginal Communities. Speaker: 
Stan Winford

10-13 Dec – Australian & New Zealand Society of Criminology Conference, WA. Speaker: Rob Hulls
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