Source: International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law. Downloaded 7 March 2005.

The introduction of Koori Courts in Victoria pursuant to the Magistrates Court (Koori Court) Act 2002 has not been without its detractors and like all change, is attended by controversies. Steps which attempt to ‘move the law along’ (as if she were an old bag lady), are often seen as a threat to the legitimacy of the legal system. Before we even commenced sitting at Shepparton by the Bayunga or Koriella river, known to non-Aboriginal people as the Goulburn, our regional Koori court was the subject of criticism with members of the legal profession commenting that Aboriginal people would not be able to find their way to the court, or that they would ‘go walkabout’ on the day of the hearing (Herald Sun 6/5/2002). This early criticism was met by much positive commentary (The Age October 2002). Nevertheless criticism continued, when a senior member of the Victorian bar, citing the establishing Act incorrectly, suggested that the Koori Court ‘tipped the scales’ and provided ‘luxury’ or ‘special’ courts and some ill-defined special regime of sentencing options (Galbally, Herald Sun 13/3/2003). He also contrasted the banning of Father Christmas from child-minding centres with the Koori Court initiative. The Victorian Attorney General, Rob Hulls criticised the ‘impaired logic’ which underpinned this commentary (Herald Sun 14/3/2003). It is timely to put the controversy and distractions to one side and start seriously considering what we do in the Koori Court in Victoria. (excerpt)

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