Murri Court system praised
QUEENSLAND’S Murri Court system has been given the thumbs up in a report by the Australian Institute of Criminology.
Murri Court was introduced in Maryborough in November last year and has had mixed results.
The court aims to assist indigenous offenders by providing cultural support pre and post sentence.
Defendants must plead guilty to have their case dealt with in Murri Court.
Elders assist the magistrate by providing culturally appropriate advice and insight into an offender’s background.
Offenders are ordered to undertake various programs and meetings with their elders before being sentenced.
Three people have appeared in the Maryborough Murri Court so far: two male offenders were imprisoned and one female offender is yet to be sentenced.
Shane Nelson from the Kahwun Wooga Aboriginal Corporation said the Murri Court process had the potential to help meet the specific needs of indigenous offenders.
“The people who have appeared in Murri Court understood the seriousness of the process,” he said.
“They knew they had to listen to their elders and there were no more chances – if they didn’t comply they were going away.”
Selina Hazel appeared in Murri Court in June and has since undergone counselling and meetings with the indigenous women’s group.
“It’s really helped me,” she said. “I’m no longer doing the things I was doing or hanging out with the same people.
“It’s gotten me on the straight and narrow and I’ve even applied to do a teacher’s aide course: I’ve come a long way.”
Maryborough Magistrate John Smith has supported the introduction of the Murri Court, but was wary of making any assessment of the process.
The Australian Institute of Criminology report found that Murri Court was successful in improving the court’s relationship with indigenous offenders, improving court appearance rates and providing better opportunities for offenders to undertake rehabilitation.
Rates of re-offending, however, had not improved as a result of Murri Court.