Qld Closes world leading Murri Court

Government decision to close off Murri Court funding.   19 Sept 2012

“It is unfortunate that the new Queensland government has forgone taking more time to consult, understand and manage these complex Court led, restorative justice initiatives”, a former state manager of the Murri Court program, Greg Wiman, said today.

“One of the many advantages of Court involvement in “problem solving” activity includes the fact that these courts are pivotal at a point where many defendants consider change, and may make a commitment to change if they are provided with the appropriate advice and encouragement.  To not take this opportunity is to let social problems propagate in our communities, to influence new generations and perpetuate a growing social cost.”

“Change in Indigenous defendant behavior can and does occur when Murri Courts use their combined judicial and Elder authority to shame and encourage a defendant to recognise their problems and work to find solutions, holding the outcome of final sentence in balance.”

“The social problems which are in evidence in our Courts as underlying factors in offending behavior are not simple.  They are as much a result of inadequate socialisation and failed government social policy, as poor personal choices of the individuals themselves.  Courts are regularly involved in the complexity of recognising the personal responsibility of individuals within a social context created by culture and laws, and confused by many problematic vested interests within our society.  How much alcoholism would there be if governments were effective in introducing “zero harm” licensing laws, or managing the revenue loss from excise; or became effective in educating our youth on the harms of alcohol to their future health, relationships and family”, Mr Wiman said.

“A significant success of the Murri Court has been the formal recognition of Indigenous Elders within the justice system and steps towards a reconciled future of cooperation in addressing the social problems experienced within Indigenous communities”, Mr Wiman said. “This trust is a fragile thing, which many fear is vulnerable to the vagaries of government policy, despite the ongoing commitment of Courts.”

“Our new Queensland government has set an economic course based on their belief that the cutting of costs will solve its problems.  Yet there is a large body of work available to the government about anticipated negative social consequences arising from the Global Financial Crisis and strict fiscal constraint.  Many consider that a non-buffered economic response by the government will create more hardship than it solves.”

“Solutions can be found with effective consultation”, Mr Wiman said.

Further information is available from the mybail .com.au  website or by contacting Greg Wiman. 

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