find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Intergenerational disadvantage focus of ACT sentencing pilot

Intergenerational disadvantage focus of ACT sentencing pilot

Scales of Justice

The ACT government has announced that specialised pre-sentence reports will be trialled for ATSIL people caught in the criminal justice system.

Offenders sentenced in the ACT will be the first to participate in a specialised sentencing program to be trialled by the court, according to The Canberra Times.

Modelled after a similar program in Canada called the Gladue reports, the pre-sentencing reports acknowledge intergenerational disadvantage as a factor that may lead to offending.

In Canada, special caseworkers are assigned to prepare the documents, providing the court with a report that includes recommendations for an appropriate sentence. As part of the process, relevant information about an offender’s personal background is provided, including any dealings they may have with child protective services; or any history concerning medical issues, abuse or substance abuse.  

ANU legal academic and barrister Dr Anthony Hopkins told The Canberra Times that the reports are not intended to give any kind of discount to a certain kind of offender. Rather, the content of the pre-sentencing report will have the courts pay particular attention to the experience of Indigenous Australians, he said.

“The premise is that we know that too many Indigenous Australians experience lives of disadvantage, systemic discrimination and intergenerational trauma leading to their offending, but we don’t have that story told in court,” Dr Hopkins said.

“If it was, it would inform questions of culpability and inform options for rehabilitation, reform and healing.

“Intergenerational trauma exists in a very real way.”

“They are not expert reports, they should be seen as truth reports," Dr Hopkins said.

“These reports should not be seen as simply telling stories of disadvantage. There is enormous strength within the Indigenous community, borne out of a shared history of survival, pride and connection to culture and country. These stories of resilience also need to be told and understood, and their potential realised.”

The territory’s Legal Aid Commission was asked by the government to consider how a similar initiative might be introduced for local sentencing court. Legal Aid ACT finalised its report earlier this year, and is currently developing a way for the system to be piloted.

ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said that the courts were in a better position to make their sentencing for ATSIL offenders fairer and culturally appropriate.

“I look forward to receiving recommendations for law reform that come out of Legal Aid ACT’s work on this topic,” Mr Ramsay said.

The ACT’s pre-sentencing reports will be more detailed and comprehensive than those similar reports that exist in Queensland, for offenders with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSIL) background appearing before the state’s Murri Courts.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Intergenerational disadvantage focus of ACT sentencing pilot
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Oct 23 2017
How to fail well
The legal profession is due for an attitude adjustment when it comes to perceived failures, accordin...
Oct 23 2017
Lawyers slam rushed consultation for SA repeat offenders bill
The Law Society of South Australia has expressed concern for a proposal to roll out new laws amendin...
Oct 23 2017
The pursuit of happiness in the law
A panel of legal experts have explored how to define success in the legal profession, and how lawyer...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...