The Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community Court was launched in 2006.
It is a sentencing court designed to be more culturally inclusive of Aboriginal people than traditional courts and with an approach targeted towards reducing recidivism among participants.
In 2009 the Department engaged an independent consultant to evaluate the success of the court on its behalf and reported its findings to the Attorney General.
In April 2010 the State Government decided to extend the pilot for a further two years with a greater focus on referring offenders to programs and referring a wider range of offenders to the community court.
Fact sheets about the origins of the court, what the review report found, and the planned future direction of the court are available to download, as well as a copy of the evaluation report itself.
Some frequently asked questions about the court are below.
How does the court operate?
The Community Court is part of the Magistrates Court of Western Australia.
It is set up in a less formal structure than other courts, with the magistrate sitting at a special table with the other participants, including the offender and their family.
The magistrate is assisted by Aboriginal elders and other respected people. They are court members and provide information and advice on social and cultural issues.
Participants use plain language rather than technical legal terms usually used in courts.
What sentencing options are available?
The Aboriginal Community Court retains all the sentencing options as the conventional Magistrates Court. This includes the power to send offenders to prison.
However, a major goal of the court is to make sentencing orders that are appropriate to the background and situation of the offender.
This will not make the sentence 'easier', but will provide an opportunity for offenders to complete an order.
Victims continue to have a voice in the sentencing process.
Who sentences the offenders?
The magistrate has the ultimate decision regarding the sentence handed down.
However, the Aboriginal members of the Court will provide information to help them make an informed decision.
Aboriginal members will also speak directly with the offender to make them take notice of what effect their behaviour has had and encourage them to make change.
What type of offences can be addressed at the court?
All offences that can be heard in a conventional magistrates court can be heard in the Community Court, with the exception of some family violence and sexual offences.
Who is eligible?
Aboriginal defendants who plead guilty to an offence and who have shown an intention to take responsibility for their actions.
Aboriginal defendants who fit these criteria will be given the option of a Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community Court sentencing hearing.
Need more information?
Contact the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community Court Project Coordinator on (08) 9093 5300.
Last updated: 1-Sep-2015
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