Community Justice Centre submission

Melinda Tew
Community Justice Centre
Department of the Attorney-General & Justice
By email:

10th December 2021

Dear Melinda,

RE Community Justice Centre 2021 Review

NTCOSS welcomes the opportunity to provide a submission to the Northern Territory Government’s
Community Justice Centre review, in response to considerations to reduce its functions to only
mediating referrals under section 14 of the Personal Violence Restraining Order Act 2016.

The role of the Community Justice Centre and alternative dispute resolution is critical in the NT,
particularly in the context of the Aboriginal Justice Agreement and Closing the Gap targets, and
commitments to address the over incarceration of Aboriginal people in the Territory.

The potential for positive impact by the Community Justice Centre is great, with opportunities for
restorative conferencing in schools; increasing training for local mediators in remote and regional
communities; and culturally safe community peacemaking work across the NT. NTCOSS sees the
potential role for the Community Justice Centre in community peacemaking as particularly pertinent
in the current climate, including in larger communities such as Alice Springs.

The original intent of the Community Justice Centre as a means of resolving disputes to achieve
greater harmony in the community is still highly relevant in the NT, and is the overarching
responsibility of no other body or agency in the NT.

The Community Justice Centre saw a 48% increase in mediation cases in 2020-21 compared to 2019-
20, and have recently established an important partnership with Aboriginal Resource and
Development Services Aboriginal Corporation Mediation and Dispute Resolution Service. NTCOSS
members outside Darwin report a growing need for training in alternative dispute resolution
practices, and access to skilled facilitators and mediators. It is likely that establishing a permanent,
physical presence in Alice Springs will enable the Community Justice Centre to provide greater
outreach to remote communities across the NT; build meaningful partnerships with remote service
providers; and provide timely responses to referrals.

NTCOSS strongly recommends that the NT Government does not reduce the functions of the
Community Justice Centre. Further, it is recommended that the NT Government increase investment
in the functions of the Community Justice Centre, to increase capacity and presence across the NT.

Yours sincerely,
Deborah Di Natale
NT Council of Social Service