Who is leading the change
Department of Justice and Community Safety, Court Services Victoria
The Melbourne Magistrates’ Court resume the Koori Family Violence and Victims Support Program.
The Magistrates’ Court have established a Koori Family Violence Project team to lead the project. Supporting governance arrangements include a Koori Family Violence Project Control Group to oversee the Koori Family Violence Project, and the Koori Family Violence and Victims Support Program Working Group. This will ensure all court responses to Koori family violence take an agreed approach consistent with the:
- Royal Commission into Family Violence recommendations
- Dhelk Dja Aboriginal 10 Year Family Violence Agreement
- Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja Phase 4 of the Aboriginal Justice Agreement
- 10 Year Plan for Change
All roles associated with the implementation of the Koori Family Violence and Victims Support Program have been recruited
Umalek Balit, a court-based Koori Family Violence and Victim Support Program has commenced operations at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court. Umalek Balit is a culturally safe and relevant program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families who come to Melbourne Magistrates’ Court for family violence related court proceedings. It offers support, information and referrals to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families about:
- Family Violence Intervention Orders
- Family violence related criminal matters
- Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VoCAT)
- Referrals to Umalek Balit
Police, registry staff, magistrates and community organisations can make referrals to Umalek Balit. This means a Koori Family Violence Practitioner will reach out to offer support and information. Referrals are made to the Koori Family Violence Practitioners via:
- Daily Coordination Meetings at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court
- Contacting the Family Violence Registry at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court by calling 03 9628 7777
Referrals made to the Koori Family Violence Practitioners are prioritised on the basis of risk. The relevant risk indicators are set out in the Family Violence Common Risk Assessment Framework (CRAF). The current risk assessment and risk management processes and practices will be reviewed to ensure they align with the Multi Agency Risk and Management (MARAM) Framework. These roles review applications for Family Violence Intervention Orders (FVIOs) on a daily basis to identify risk indicators. Practitioners consider the range of indicators to determine risk and prioritise clients.
The Koori Family Violence Practitioners
Umalek Balit has a Koori Women’s and a Koori Men’s Family Violence Practitioner who have specialist cultural and family violence knowledge.
The Koori Family Violence Practitioners support clients by:
- explaining the court process (but cannot give legal advice)
- assessing dynamic risk
- safety planning
- referring to family violence, legal, court or other relevant services
- supporting the safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families through contested hearings
- arranging for the right court support
The Koori Family Violence Practitioners provide services to court users who:
- identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
- are a non-Aboriginal partner or family member of an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person
- have Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children
- are accessing the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court for family violence
The Program has been co-designed in partnership between Magistrates’ Court of Victoria and key Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to ensure the program model is culturally safe and responds the unique needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander court users in Victoria.
Magistrates’ Court is well underway with planning its response to Koori family violence. A project team has been formed to lead the strategic direction for Koori family violence responses and initiatives within the Magistrates’ Court including both planning, evaluation and community consultation.
The Magistrates’ Court recently recruited to several new roles, including a Team Leader to lead the development and implementation of the Koori Family Violence and Victim Support Program, and an Evaluation Lead, whose role will be to evaluate the programs as they are rolled-out into the courts and community. The Koori Family Violence and Victim Support Program has developed a cultural safety professional development program, and the team are prioritising consultation and time spent with the community as further planning develops. Government investment in the 2017-18 Budget will support the Koori Family Violence and Victims Support Program being resumed by July 2018.
The implementation of this recommendation links to the implementation of recommendations 60, 61, 70, 126 and 150.