RMIT University law and social work students recently undertook a week-long study tour to Auckland, New Zealand where they visited the Rangatahi Youth Court, Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment and the Court of New Beginnings. The study tour had a profound effect on these students and their ideas about how justice can and should be delivered. Recently, the students’ reflections were selected for publication in Therapeutic Justice in the Mainstream which is part of an international project that seeks to promote the use of therapeutic justice approaches in mainstream legal settings. The students’ reflections can be accessed here.
Students also developed research proposals inspired by their tour, and presented them in an engaging “three-minute thesis” style workshop at the CIJ in October. The research papers were on a diverse range of topics, including whether judges are adequately equipped for the expanded judicial role required of them by problem-solving courts; whether technology might play a role in helping deliver alcohol and other drug treatment courts in remote communities; whether cultural practices incorporated into the New Zealand court system actually deliver better outcomes for Maori; how the role of defence lawyers might be reimagined in the context of sexual violence; a comparison of police powers and their relationship with youth offending in New Zealand and the Northern Territory; and reducing overrepresentation through culturally appropriate justice responses. There were also a broad range of papers on the potential for restorative justice to provide responses to problem gambling; elder abuse; trauma in youth justice; and the harms associated with justice, court and legal processes.