The Koori Court is a division of the Magistrates’ Court and is established under the Magistrates’ Court Act 1989. The Koori Court offers an alternative approach to sentencing by enhancing the ability of the Court to address the underlying issues that lead to a person’s offending behaviour. The need for a Koori Court arose due to the over representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across all levels of the criminal justice system.
In 2001 when the Magistrates’ Koori Court Pilot commenced, it was estimated that Koories were 12 times more likely to be imprisoned than other Victorians.
The Koori Court Program has grown from the pilot locations of Shepparton (2002) and Broadmeadows (2003). In 2014–15, the Koori Court sat regularly at Bairnsdale, Broadmeadows, Latrobe Valley, Melbourne, Mildura, Shepparton, Swan Hill, Warrnambool (on circuit to Hamilton and Portland) and Geelong. Children’s Koori Courts also operated at Bairnsdale, Latrobe Valley, Melbourne (circuit to Dandenong and Heidelberg), Mildura, Shepparton, Swan Hill, Warrnambool (circuit to Hamilton and Portland) and Geelong. Approximately 30 magistrates regularly sit at the various Koori Court locations around the state.
The Koori Court currently employs 85 casual elders and respected persons and 14 full time operational Koori Court program staff members.
The Court remains the largest employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff members within the justice sector.