In August, during Brain Injury Awareness Week, the Public Advocate, Colleen Pearce, launched our landmark report from the Aquired Brain Injury (ABI) project 'Recognition, Respect, Support: Enabling Justice for People with an Acquired Brain Injury'. The launch featured an interview conducted by CIJ's Director, Rob Hulls, of two participants from the project's Justice User Group who have lived experience of ABI and the criminal justice system. The participants delivered powerful examples of how the criminal justice system has failed to recognise their disability and has failed, time and again, to provide them with respect and support. The report finds that the gross over-representation of people with an acquired brain injury in our prison system will only be reduced if the voices of people with an ABI are taken seriously and their needs are addressed by the criminal justice system.
The Enabling Justice project was undertaken in partnership with Jesuit Social Services and was funded by a grant administered through the Office of the Public Advocate. Rather than the end of a process, we view the launch of this report as, in the words of a project participant, the first of many "stepping stones to making things different".
Colleen Pearce, Office of the Public Advocate, Wayne Muir, VALS, Julie Edwards, JSS, Rob Hulls, CIJ.
CIJ staff and ABI report authors Anna Howard, Stan Winford and Jessica Richter
Prof. Penny Weller, RMIT JD Director, Glenn Rutter, Manager, Court Support and Diversion Services, Magistrate Pauline Spencer
PIPA heads west –
For the sake of alliteration if nothing else, in October the PIPA (Positive Interventions for Perpetrators in Adolescence) Project is heading to Perth! During 9 – 13th October, we will link up with our WA Project Partners in person, as well as conduct a number of practitioner focus groups and hold a public forum along similar lines to the successful forum in Victoria earlier this year. This forum is kindly being hosted by Edith Cowan University and will bring together practitioners, academics, Magistrates, police and others to discuss the response to adolescent family violence in the WA context. At the forum we will also be able to share the emerging results of our hard work in Victoria – from analysis of over 5,000 VLA client records; audits of over 250 case files from VLA, the Children’s Court and Youthlaw conducted by our hardworking team of Law and Social Work students and, obviously, feedback from focus groups currently running with practitioners all over the state.
Mapping the roles and responsibilities of agencies in relation to perpetrator interventions –
CIJ’s work supporting the implementation of Recommendation 85 from the Royal Commission into Family Violence has continued apace, with over 25 service areas now consulted around the framework of roles and responsibilities developed by the CIJ. Services ranging from aged care; primary health; alcohol and drug services; mental health; education; child and family services; financial counselling and gambler’s help; and of course specialist family service providers have all engaged with the framework and provided their feedback on where they see their practice located, including over the next few years. These in depth workshops have provided services with an opportunity to step outside the immediate parameters of their existing work and identify ways in which all services can contribute to safety and reduced risk in more meaningful ways. The CIJ is also leading some more detailed consultation with Aboriginal service providers to explore the implications of perpetrator accountability for community. In addition, the CIJ will be ‘testing’ the framework against the experience of the predominant users of this system – being male perpetrators of family violence – in focus groups to be scheduled later in the year.
Compulsion, convergence or crime? Criminal justice contact as a form of gambling harm –
Watch this space for the launch of the CIJ’s report on the intersection of gambling and the criminal justice system on 24 October. Commissioned by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation to examine this issue, the CIJ’s resulting report suggests that gambling may be a feature of offenders’ lives in more ways than the community might expect – a ‘sleeper’ issue, as project participants described it. Yet the overwhelming presence of mental illness, Acquired Brain Injury, family violence; childhood trauma; drug and alcohol abuse; homelessness and other forms of vulnerability in offender populations mean that the existence of less visible problems like gambling is not always clear.
The absence of a spent convictions scheme, and discrimination on the basis of irrelevant criminal record, together constitute a significant extra barrier for many Aboriginal Victorians looking for work, at a time when there is considerable disparity in employment rates between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people across Australia.
The Centre’s first Design Thinking and the Law Seminar ‘Re-imagining Legal Service Delivery’ was held in Shepparton in late July. The seminar was conducted in partnership with Court Services Victoria and delivered by award-winning design thinking educators and researchers: RMIT’s Professor Ingo Karpen, a lecturer in the Graduate School of Business and Law’s Executive MBA program and a co-editor of the recently released Strategic Design, Eight Essential Practices Every Strategic Designer Must Master, and Patrick Sharbaugh, a Senior Program Director with the LUMA Institute, a global leader in design thinking instruction. Ingo, Patrick and the CIJ’s Mark Madden consulted widely across the justice system to ensure the seminar was tailored to the needs of participants.
Shifrah Blustein, WEstjustice,with Mark Madden of CIJ
The Royal Commission into Family Violence recognised the burden the fines system was placing on Victorian Magistrates’ Courts. It suggested that consideration be given to changing the jurisdiction of infringement cases, to relieve some of the pressure on the courts so their time and resources can be better spent on the far more serious issue of family violence.
The link to the original discussion paper can be found here.
14 JD students recently spent four days in the Court of Appeal, observing hearings and discussing cases with Judges, associates, lawyers, barristers and court staff gaining a privileged insight into the workings of Victoria’s most superior court. The students also enjoyed a networking lunch with legal professionals working in a range of interesting roles.
"Through this placement I was able to learn a lot about Victoria’s legal and court system, make connections with fellow students in similar situations to me and also receive advice and knowledge from practiced professionals in the legal sector. This placement was a highly valuable experience and I would recommend it to any law student regardless of which stage of their studies they are at."
Alexander Baird, 1st year JD student.
New Zealand Study Tour –
RMIT JD Students in NZ at the Rangatahi Youth Court with Judge Heemi Taumanu
Rob and Stan recently lead 10 lucky JD students on a week long study tour of New Zealand's innovative courts. Students observed the workings of a number of courts including Rangatahi Youth Courts, Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court and the New Beginning (homelessness) Court as well as taking part in a workshop at Massey University on restorative justice principles, including briefings from world-renowned RJ practitioners.
" Probably the highlight for me was the drug court...seeing one of the graduates go through his graduation and seeing the Haka afterwards. I’ve never seen that sort of community and connection in an adversarial system. It was something I’ll never forget.
- Dushan Perera, JD student
RMIT JD Students with Judge John Fitzgerald, New Beginnings Court
The session heard about the benefits and challenges with multidisciplinary practice and explored strategies for building a robust model, which will be unique to each CLC and the group of people it exists to support.
One support that will be available later in 2017 to practitioners in this space is the ‘Integrated Practice Toolkit’ developed by the Integrated Legal and Social Support Network, a group of CLCs that operate with an Integrated Practice model. This network has been working on the Toolkit since the group formed in early 2016. The toolkit is a practical guide that supports legal and social work staff to understand and navigate multidisciplinary frameworks, in a Victorian context.
Stephanie Price, West Heidelberg CLS, Sarah McMahon from Justice Connect and Kat Ogilvie from Centre for Innovative Justice
Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service submission to Police Conduct Inquiry –
RMIT social work students, Fiona Carey and Johanna Moden (pictured), have been recognised in the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) submission to the Inquiry into the External Oversight of Police Corruption and Misconduct in Victoria. The CIJ partnered with VALS to supervise social work students to undertake research into VALS’ police complaint files. You can read the submission here.
Law & Advocacy Centre for Women moves in –
The CIJ is delighted to welcome the Law and Advocacy Centre for Women (LACW) who have co-located with the Mental Health Legal Centre on the ground level of RMIT’s building 97 (CIJ occupy level 1). Ellie Pappas, Jill Prior and new recruit Asha Zomer have made a seamless transition to the new premises and are well set up to continue their great work with women who are in or at risk of entering the criminal justice system. LACW provides comprehensive, wrap-around services to the greater Melbourne area, including preventative case management and engagement with therapeutic services.
The LACW will provide law and Social Work students with amazing work integrated learning opportunities as part of our multi-disciplinary practice.
Events: Passion with a Purpose
Student developers, Josh Lee and Alexandra Laurence
Brendan Lacota, Moonee Valley Legal Service & Emma King, VCOSS
In August, FineFixer, a fantastic new web-based tool developed by RMIT students in the Fastrack Innovation Program, went live! The tool aims to help users understand all the options in relation to their fine/s and provides advice on how to access the assistance they might need. With a grant from Victoria Law Foundation the tool was further developed and refined with Brendan Lacota of Moonee Valley Legal Service, mentoring the developer students' Josh Lee, Alexandra Laurence and Rebecca Aiezzathroughout the process.
Myths and Misconceptions –
Dean McWhirter, Assistant Commissioner, Victoria Police; John Champion SC, Director of Public Prosecutions; Her Honour Judge Meryl Sexton, County Court Judge in charge of sex offences list; Rob Hulls, Director, Centre for Innovative Justice; Di Elderton,victim of sexual offences
To be sent hard copies please email Victoria Police at Family-Violence-Comm@police.vic.gov.au with Challenging Misconceptions in subject line. Maximum 10 hard copies each for general release but can be negotiated.
26-27 Sep – NT Council of Social Services Conference: Turning practice on its head – Darwin. Speaker: Rob Hulls 10 Oct – WA Family Law Pathways Network, twilight seminar. ‘Pathways towards accountability: understanding the journey of family violence perpetrators through the service system’ – Speaker: Rob Hulls & Elena Campbell 11 Oct – Western Australia PIPA Forum 18 Oct – Gambler’s Help conference – Speaker: Elena Campbell 24 Oct – Gambling & CJS report launch - Speakers: Rob Hulls and Elena Campbell 27 Oct – Moorabbin Justice Centre 10th Anniversary – Speaker: Rob Hulls 31 Oct – Health Justice Partnerships Conference – Speaker: Rob Hulls and Stan Winford 01 Nov – Youth Justice Conference TBC (John Cain Foundation) 14 Nov – Injury & Disability Schemes Seminar – Speakers: Stan Winford and Mary Polis 24 Nov – National Association for Gambling Studies Conference – Speaker: Elena Campbell 11 Dec – Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture – Speaker: Rob Hulls