Source: (2014) Australian Indigenous Law Review. 17(2):79-99.

This article contends that two long-standing community sentencing mechanisms in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities give rise to substantive equality through providing a more appropriate setting to deliberate on the sentences of Indigenous offenders. These mechanisms are the Northern Territory Indigenous Community Courts ('Community Courts'), which reside during formal court sittings, and Law and Justice Groups, which convene prior to Magistrates' Court sittings to prepare advice on sentencing options and written references.2 These mechanisms are able to shed light on the distinct subjective circumstances of Indigenous defendants and the seriousness of the offence for the community. Their advice to the court on the sentencing disposition can be more effective in deterring the offender and the Aboriginal community from committing similar offences, especially where Indigenous law and culture play a strong role in community governance. Through formal sentencing processes, the Anglo-Australian courts are not otherwise privy to community knowledge relevant to Indigenous defendants. (excerpt)