Koori Court

The Koori Court has been created under the Magistrates Court Act 1989. It operates as a division of the Magistrates' Court, which sentences Indigenous defendants.

The Children's Koori Court was established under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005. The Koori Court provides an informal atmosphere and allows greater participation by the Aboriginal (Koori) community in the court process.

Koori Elders or Respected Persons, the Koori Court Officer, Koori defendants and their families can contribute during the Court hearing. This helps to reduce perceptions of cultural alienation and to ensure sentencing orders are appropriate to the cultural needs of Koori offenders, and assist them to address issues relating to their offending behaviour.

The Koori Court is currently located at Bairnsdale, Broadmeadows, Latrobe Valley, Mildura, Shepparton, Swan Hill and Warrnambool Magistrates' Courts. Children’s Koori Courts are also located in Melbourne and Mildura.

The Koori Court Aims to:
  • Increase Koori ownership of the administration of the law;
  • Increase positive participation by Koori offenders;
  • Increase the accountability of the Koori offenders, families, and community;
  • Encourage defendants to appear in Court;
  • Reduce the amount of breached court orders;
  • Deter offenders from re-offending;
  • Increase community awareness about community codes of conduct and standards of behaviour; and
  • Explore sentencing alternatives prior to imprisonment.
The Koori Court Model:
  • The court is more informal.
  • The Magistrate sits at a large table with all other participants in the case, not at the bench;
  • The defendant will sit with his or her family at the table, not in the dock; and
  • Participants will talk in 'plain' English rather than using technical legal language.
Why create a separate Court for Koori people?

Koori people are greatly over-represented within the criminal justice system, more so than any other cultural group. Koori people are 12 times more likely than non-Indigenous people to be placed in an adult prison.

Numerous reports, such as the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the Bringing them Home report, have recommended that the legal system be modified to make it less culturally alienating and more tailored to the needs of Aboriginal offenders and their community.

The Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement is an agreement developed between the State Government and the Victorian Koori community. One of the major recommendations has been the need for a Koori Court.

Who is eligible?

Koori defendants who plead guilty to an offence and who have shown an intention to take responsibility for their actions;

Koori offenders that live within, or have been charged within, the boundary area of a Koori Court; and

Koori defendants who elect to go to the Koori Court.

What types of offences?

All offences that can be heard in the Magistrates’ Court, except family violence and sexual offences, can be heard in the Koori Court.

Who sentences the offenders?

As in conventional Magistrates' Courts, the ultimate decision regarding the sentencing order is left with the Magistrates. However, in the Koori Court, the Koori Elders or Respected Persons will provide the court with advice relating to cultural matters. The Magistrate might consider this advice when handing down the most appropriate sentencing order.

What sentencing orders are available?

The Magistrate will retain all sentencing alternatives, including the power to send defendants to prison, as in the conventional Magistrates' Court. However, the primary goal of the court is to create sentencing orders that are more culturally appropriate to Aboriginal offenders, thereby reducing the rate of re-offending and increasing the positive participation of the Koori community in the sentencing process. The Koori Court therefore benefits not only the Koori community, but also the wider community.

How can I get more information about the Koori Court?

Further information for defendants considering having their matter heard in the Koori Court is available in the Defendant’s Guide to the Koori Court. Further information for legal practitioners is available in the Legal Representative’s Guide to the Koori Court. 

If you have any further questions, please contact the Koori Court Officer at your nearest Koori Court.

Area of Legislation: 

Contact Koori Court Unit

The Koori Court Unit of the Magistrates' Court of Victoria oversees the management and administration of the Koori Courts.

Level 6,
223 William Street,
Melbourne VIC 3000
(GPO Box 882, Melbourne VIC 3001)
Tel: (03) 9032 0946
(DX 350080)

Koori Court Officers
A Koori Court Officer is based at each location that has a Koori Court.

Broadmeadows Koori Court

(03) 9221 8900

Melbourne Children's Koori Court

(03) 8638 3300

Mildura Koori Court (Adults and Children)

(03) 5021 6000

Shepparton Koori Court

(03) 5821 4633

Swan Hill Koori Court

(03) 5032 0800

Warrnambool Koori Court

(03) 5564 1111