Friday 22 May 2020
During the COVID-19 lockdown it is more important than ever to reach out and maintain connections. The Innovation in Isolation CIJ update is aimed at doing just that, to keep our networks up-to-date with our activities, and to share information and media articles, including justice innovations happening around Australia. We hope you find it useful. 


Perpetrator accountability
Over this period of lockdown, courts and Men’s Behaviour Change Programs (MBCPs) have been grappling with the challenge of how to keep perpetrators of family violence in view. With courts operating with fewer in-person appearances, and with MBCP groupwork temporarily suspended, respondents to Family Violence Intervention Orders have been even less visible to the system than usual. Where this involves adolescent respondents, this may compound existing vulnerability. For adult respondents mandated to complete an MBCP as part of a Counselling Order, this puts pressure on providers to endeavour to deliver the groupwork sessions in a different mode. Unlike many other contexts, however, a straightforward transition to virtual participation is not considered a safe option. 

Accordingly, the CIJ has been part of an important collaboration between the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria, Family Safety Victoria, No to Violence and other organisations to consider ways in which to adapt targeted components of MBCP program delivery with some perpetrators, in some circumstances, while bearing risk firmly in mind. The CIJ has now delivered its recommendations to the court, but the swift response of courts and other agencies has highlighted how crucial a truly coordinated community response and evidence are to achieving ‘perpetrator accountability’. We look forward to contributing to the momentum of this collaboration for future, coordinated reforms.    

Contact with the criminal justice system as a form of gambling harm
In 2017, the CIJ released a report identifying contact with the criminal justice system as a form of gambling harm. This report identified a number of different pathways which could lead people between gambling and criminal system involvement, as well as the important role that the justice system could play in identifying and responding to this harm as a positive intervention. 

The impacts of COVID-19 – both now and to come – have laid the terrain for gambling harm to be experienced by an even greater number of Victorians. Spikes in co-occurring issues such as mental health, unemployment and, of course, family violence, will compound this potential. The CIJ is therefore working with the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation to develop an Issues Paper which highlights some of these recent challenges and considerations which may inform future service delivery, and to review updated evidence regarding gambling harm and offending. This Issues Paper will be available in the second half of 2020. 

Children’s Court of Victoria Service Delivery Reform Project – Update 
Like many other projects on foot at present, the Children’s Court Service Delivery Reform project has had to adapt to the changed working environment triggered by COVID-19. 

The implementation of a trial for improved judicial support, incorporating a reconfigured Magistrate and Registry team structure, has been paused. The model was developed through a series of co-design workshops facilitated by the project team in December and January. The Court is committed to implementing the trial when circumstances allow, and to ensure that learnings from the Court’s operations during COVID-19 are incorporated into the trial design. The work undertaken in preparation for the trial has been beneficial to the Court in adapting its operations to the challenges of COVID-19. The planned research with young people with past experiences of the Court was delayed however it is hoped the research will be able to commence in coming weeks. The perspectives of young people are crucial to the Court’s service reform considerations. 

The project team is otherwise working towards finalising the project report by mid-year. The report will incorporate insights and findings from over 100 interviews, workshops and consultations which have been conducted with a range of Court users over the past year, and identify human-centred reform opportunities at the Court.  

All project team members are working remotely from home but continuing to collaborate through digital means with the Court.  

Voices of adolescents should not be another casualty of this pandemic
Read here
Elena Campbell, CIJ Blog, 22 May 2020

Open Circle and Restorative Justice During Covid-19
Read here
Asia Swida, CIJ Blog, 22 May 2020


Courts Policing and fines COVID-19 and Kids Resources  

  • CIJ EVENTS Launch - Tuesday 26 May
    Register here

    The Psychology of Work Post COVID-19 - Thursday 4 June
    Register here

    Voices for change - weekly podcast
    This series was produced by the CIJ’s Supporting Justice Project who have been working with the Voices for Change self-advocacy group to create this podcast series as part of a submission to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. Our Voices introduces 5 members of the Voices for Change self-advocacy group.
    Listen here
    Acquired brain injuries and the criminal justice system - Law Week 2020 - Webinar
    CIJ advisers Michael Haralambous and Dorothy Armstrong covered some of the findings of the Enabling Justice project and work being undertaken at CIJ to respond to the overrepresentation of people with disability in the criminal justice system. 
    Watch the recording here
    CIJ's Catherine Caruana recently adopted a puppy named Midge! It's great to have Midge on board and we hope to see her in our weekly team catch-ups.

Stay Safe!

- CIJ Team
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