Murri Court is a network of Queensland Courts operating at the Magistrate level which specialise in hearing criminal matters pertaining to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. This review provides a mainly qualitative sociological approach to receive and analyse stories and perspectives from those who work in or have otherwise experienced Murri Court.
- At a structural level, Murri Court has been shown to be effective in creating a court process that is less intimidating, more approachable and accessible to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. This is not only because it discards many of the complexities and traditions customary to the ‘theatre’ of the traditional Magistrate Court, but also because of the intentional efforts to interact with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in a respectful and culturally sensitive manner.
- There were mixed beliefs across community as to whether support services were readily available to defendants. Whilst at some sites the support services were within close distance to the Murri Court, and some services provided transport or alternative means of receiving care (i.e. telephone counselling) this was not experienced for all sites. Regional or remote sites, or persons from such regions, were unable to access the services they required. Where support services were accessible to defendants this benefitted the Murri Court and its operations.
- The role of Elders and Respected Persons within Murri Court cannot be underestimated nor overlooked. Indeed, the primary data for this evaluation show repeatedly that they are fundamental to the success of Murri Court. They bring safety, security and authority to Murri Court in the eyes of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.
- It is not uncommon for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people to breach bail. This is not always a sign of lack of respect for the law but can instead be due to, for instance, an inability to access transport or to a conflict between the bail conditions and a person’s obligation to culture, community and family. It is recommended that additional funding should be provided to Community Justice Groups (CJGs) to fund Indigenous bail support programs attached to Murri Court to increase successful adherence to bail conditions.