Edition #26
A note from the Director

In welcoming you to this latest edition of our newsletter, we acknowledge that we are facing unique and difficult times with the onset of the Coronavirus here in Australia. Not only will COVID-19 change the way we operate as an organisation, but it will put added stress on everyone working in, or associated with, the justice system. 

The CIJ will continue with its mission to create a justice system that can be a positive intervention in the lives of those who come into contact with it. We will continue to promote innovation, including therapeutic and restorative approaches within our justice system.

In the immediate future our staff have been encouraged to work from home, with regular staff meetings to be undertaken electronically.

We will work with our co-located partners and justice stakeholders to ensure that smart and safe opportunities for our students can continue, albeit perhaps in different forms. We will also look at innovative ways the justice system can operate,  in the current uncertain environment, to appropriately meet the needs of the many vulnerable people that require its help. 

The CIJ certainly believes that out of the current adversity comes the opportunity to research, advocate for and promote smarter ways of delivering better access to justice for everyone.

- Rob Hulls, Director, Centre for Innovative Justice

Launch of PIPA Report!

On Tuesday 3 March we were joined by Gabrielle Williams, Minister for Women, Youth Affairs and the Prevention of Family Violence, and an expert panel at the Capitol Theatre to launch the long awaited report from The PIPA project.

An audience of 200 heard a report on the research’s findings by PIPA lead author Elena Campbell, and a panel discussion involving Judge Amanda Chambers, President of the Children’s Court of Victoria; Dr Heather Nancarrow, CEO of ANROWS; and Jo Howard, leading consultant in the area of adolescent family violence.

The event explored some of the systemic and pragmatic changes that could improve the legal and service system’s response to adolescent family violence, including legislative and wider reform. This included grappling with the nuance and flexibility required in such a complex area of policy.
Responding to the research findings, Minister Williams reflected on the opportunities for ensuring that Victoria’s interconnected systems function as a more positive intervention for families and adolescents and committed to considering PIPA’s recommendations in detail.

Associate Director Elena Campbell wishes to thank the many people who contributed to or participated in the PIPA project along the way, including ANROWS for commissioning, funding and continuing to promote the research.


Read the Key Findings report here
Read the Full Report here

You can listen to a podcast of the event here

Victorian Government Commits to Introduce Spent Convictions Legislation! 

Exciting news! Earlier this month, the Victorian Government announced that a long overdue Spent Convictions scheme will be introduced in Victoria. This now brings Victoria in line with the rest of Australia. You can read the government's media release here.

This is a massive milestone for Woor-Dungin's Criminal Record Discrimination Project team who have been tirelessly campaigning and calling for change. You can read more about the journey at Woor-Dungin's newsletter piece here.

The Woor Dungin team (L-R) Naomi Murphy, Georgina Heydon, Bronwyn Naylor (RMIT), Christa Momot, Michael Bell, Stan Winford (CIJ) and Sue-Anne Hunter.

Children’s Court of Victoria Service Delivery Reform Project – Update 

The Children’s Court Service Delivery Reform Project is using human-centred design to improve the experiences of Court users and to encourage a collaborative approach towards better outcomes in the Court’s system. 

Over 100 interviews, workshops and consultations have been conducted with Court users, including Magistrates, Court staff, legal professionals, government agencies and community service providers, to understand and explore challenges and opportunities in relation to the Court. In the coming months, further research will be conducted with young people with past experiences of the Court.

From the research completed to date, several opportunities for service reform within the Court have been identified. In December and January, the Project Team facilitated a series of co-design workshops with Court staff, including Magistrates, Registry and management, which focused on the first focus area for service reform – judicial support. Judicial support was defined as the mechanisms and structures which enable judicial officers working in the Court to perform most effectively in their role. 

A trial model for improved judicial support was developed by the workshop attendees. The model, which involves a reconfigured Magistrate and Registry team structure, will be trialled and evaluated in the Court over several months in 2020. It is anticipated that the trial model will improve the effectiveness and wellbeing of Magistrates and the Registry team and, in turn, the experience and outcomes for other Court users.

A global spotlight on Access to Justice

In January, CIJ's Stan Winford was invited by the United Nations Development Programme and the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Datuk Sri Panglima David Wong to speak at National Colloquium on Access to Justice 2020 in Malaysia. The Colloquium was attended by most of the Malaysian judiciary.  

Malaysia's Chief Justice Chief Justice of Malaysia Tan Sri Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat launched the conference and spoke about the Malaysia's plans to improve access to justice for Malaysians including greater use of mobile courts and technology. You can read media reports of the Colloquium and Chief Justice's speeches here and here.

Stan spoke about improving access to justice through technology and how this is being implemented in Australia. His presentation included the context for access to justice in Australia, factors driving change, and Australian examples of some of the ways in which technology has been used to improve access to justice. In his talk, Stan also addressed the opportunities, limitations and barriers associated with the use of technology and some of the lessons learned in Australia, as well as suggestions for Malaysia. He also addressed the importance of using human centred approaches to developing technology, drawing on some of the work of the CIJ and PaperGiant to develop 
Raising the age of criminal responsibility 

The CIJ recently made a submission to the Council of Attorneys-General as part of their review of the age of criminal responsibility in Australia, pointing to the availability of restorative, rehabilitative and tested models that can act as an alternative to criminal justice involvement for at risk young people.

Submission can be found here.

Measuring crime harm − the reality behind the statistics

The CIJ provided input to the Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) on the development of a Crime Harm Index for Victoria. In our submission, the CIJ advocates for the development of a Crime Harm Index that is grounded in what is known from research and practice about crime victimisation and offending.

Submission can be found here.

New CIJ staff members

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

Jarrod Hughes has joined the team as a Senior Adviser, Research and Advocacy.

Mi-Lin Chin Yi Mei has come on board as the new Student Program Manager. She is taking over the role previously filled by Kate Ottrey who has returned to her post at the OPP before going on parental leave.

Asia Swida has joined the team as a Restorative Justice Convener in Open Circle

You can read more about all our staff here.
Jarrod Hughes
Mi-Lin Chen Yi Mei

A chat with Ariel Couchman on helping young people 

Rob sat down with Ariel, Director, Youthlaw, our most recent co-located partner, to discuss how a multi-disciplinary approach can help young people with the law. Ariel also gives some excellent tips for law students and how to make the most out of placement opportunities. 

Social Work Students update

The CIJ and LACW are very happy to welcome Amelia Schiavello and Taryn Garbellini, who started their Field Education 1 social work placements at LACW in early February 2020. Amelia and Taryn are set to complete the required 500 hours for their first placement, working within LACW’s case management program alongside CIJ/LACW social worker, Kat Ogilvie and LACW case manager, Lisa Chamouras, as well as the fabulous LACW lawyers. Their placement will be 4 days a week for approximately 4-5 months. 
Amelia and Taryn will assist with delivering services to women with criminal charges at locations such as the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, Dame Phyllis Frost Centre women’s prison, and at the Pelham St LACW office. Support offered to case management LACW clients importantly seeks to address the underlying causes of any criminal charges or offending. This support can include assisting women to find appropriate housing; linking women with essential family violence and sexual assault services; consulting with and referring to culturally safe services; making referrals to specialist alcohol and other drug support services; support with linking to primary health services in the community; and connecting criminalised women with cognitive impairment to disability agencies. The placement also highlights and teaches the importance of integrated practice between professionals to provide a holistic, wraparound support service to vulnerable women with criminal charges. These are valuable lessons for social work and law students as they develop their own practice frameworks and will draw on placement experiences in future professional roles. 
We look forward to working alongside Amelia and Taryn as they progress through their placements!

Taryn Garbellini  and Amelia Schiavello

Clinical Legal Education over Summer

Over the summer semester, eight RMIT Juris Doctor students completed a Clinical Legal Education placement, a JD elective, at our co-located partners, LACW, MHLC and Youthlaw.

"My Clinical Legal Education placement at the Law and Advocacy Centre for Women has been one of the highlights of my time at RMIT. During placement, I had the opportunity to work alongside criminal defence solicitors, social workers, paralegals, and volunteers to assist vulnerable women in the criminal justice system. It was great to spend some time at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court observing proceedings and to perform practical file work tasks, but for me the most rewarding part of the experience was speaking to both existing and potential clients, and coming to understand their complex and unique needs.

- Megan Beatrice, RMIT JD Student

Financial Counselling students at MHLC

CIJ in partnership with MHLC, has been continuing to provide a unique experience for RMIT financial counselling students undertaking their placement by providing women in prison with financial counselling assistance.

"My placement at MHLC was a unique opportunity that enabled me to develop my knowledge of the criminal justice system, while concurrently developing my financial counselling skills. I was very appreciative of the opportunity to work alongside an experienced financial counsellor and to learn more about the issues that affect women in prison.

It was a crash course in the disadvantage and vulnerability that cause many women to end up in the justice system. It gave me exposure to a whole range of issues – family violence, drugs and alcohol, mental health, homelessness, gambling; and insight into how these issues intersect and contribute to women becoming incarcerated. The opportunity to work with the women in prison, assisting them to identify and resolve their financial issues and to see what a positive impact our work had on them, was invaluable. Working within a multidisciplinary practice gave me exposure and insight into many other services, and I am very grateful for the willingness with which these colleagues shared their knowledge and experience. The placement had such an impact on me that I am still at the MHLC having now transitioned from student to volunteer. There is much valuable work to be done in this space.

- Julie, RMIT Financial Counselling Student
Where are they now? 

Alex Johnson finished the RMIT Master of Social Work in 2018. 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 completed the Master of Social Work at RMIT in 2018. Since then, I have been working as a Drug and Alcohol Case Manager at the Court Integrated Services Program (CISP) at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.  CISP is primarily focused on providing forensic and community-based therapeutic supports to people on bail for criminal matters at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.

The Voices for Justice training, a project of the Self-Advocacy Resource Unit at Ross House and supported by the Centre for Innovative Justice, was featured across ABC News, AM radio and ABC News Online. Dorothy Armstrong, Adviser and Peer Support Worker, was interviewed on ABC’s Morning Breakfast radio where she highlighted the overrepresentation of people with disability in the criminal justice system and the importance of engaging lived-experience in finding policy solutions.


Over a third of prisoners have an acquired brain injury 
Dorothy Armstrong, ABC Breakfast, 7 Feb 2020 

Revolving door justice: acquired brain injury in Australia's prisons
Dorothy Armstrong, Kevin Maloney and John Tjepkema, ABC AM, 7 Feb 2020

Over a third of prisoners have an acquired brain injury
Dorothy Armstrong, ABC 7PM, 7 Feb 2020

'Why many Australians with brain injuries find themselves in the 'revolving door' of prison
Norman Hermant, ABC Online, 7 Feb 2020

'Invisible' victims of teenage violence are already suffering in silence. The legal system is making the problem worse
Hayley Gleeson, ABC News, 15 March 2020

Adolescent family violence is a growing problem – and the legal system is making it worse
Elena Campbell, The Conversation, 3 March 2020

PIPA Launch Podcast

The Capitol Theatre, 3 March 2020

Old convictions for minor crimes to be wiped from the records
Tammy Mills and Simone Fox Koob, The Age, 27 Feb 2020

Jamming the revolving door of women in prison, Jill Prior is putting a new spin on lady justice
Hayley Gleeson, ABC Online, 3 Feb 2020 

CIJ's Sarah Davidson, on the importance of financial counselling
Saturday Night with Dr Sally Cockburn, 3AW, 14 March 2020
(starts at 11 minutes 20 seconds)
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