Source: (2004) Conference paper. Australian Institute of Criminology, Crime in Australia, 30 November. Downloaded 8 February 2005.

It is hard to believe that it is only five years since the first drug court opened in Sydney in 1999. Now we have drug courts in every state except Tasmania. Specialist courts such as domestic violence courts operate in South Australia, Western Australia and soon, in Victoria. Indigenous courts or jurisdictions, or forms of circle sentencing, have come into operation in South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria. Proposals have been floated for specialist sex courts or lists, community courts, teen courts, homelessness courts and others. In 2003, the South Australian Diversion Court, which deals with offenders with mental illness, won the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration’s award for excellence and in 2004, the same state’s Youth Court’s family conference team won the award for its work with restorative justice conferences in juvenile justice. Clearly, something is happening in, and possibly to, the court system. Some of these innovations have been have been developed by the courts themselves and some are driven by governments. In Victoria, the government has endorsed and promoted problem-solving courts in its far-reaching Justice Statement (Victoria 2004). In November 2004, the Western Australian Attorney-General, Jim McGinty referred the issue of ‘the principles, practices and procedures’ relating to problem-oriented courts to its Law Reform Commission. Among the issues that the Commission is required to examine are the relationship between such courts and case management and the manner in which these courts fit within the traditional court model. The issue of the relationship between these forms of court innovation and the criminal justice system lies at the core of the debate about the nature, and future, of problem-oriented courts. (excerpt)


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