Key functions and duties
The NJO develops and maintains the collaborative processes that contribute to the smooth functioning of our court and supports our commitment to the principles of therapeutic jurisprudence and solutions-focused justice. In practice this includes:
- Screening client needs and performing a triage function
- Facilitating high level case management in complex matters
- Facilitating the Problem Solving Process, working with accused persons, victims or members of the community to address issues affecting their lives
- Facilitating the provision of relevant information to the NJC Magistrate to assist in the sentencing and management of individuals before the court
- Establishing productive relationships with stakeholders and external services from the community
- Identifying service delivery gaps and make recommendations for improvements
Identify and address client needs
The NJO addresses the needs of clients doing so at various points of the client's journey through the justice system.
The NJO approaches clients presenting at court to help identify issues that led to their involvement in the criminal justice system and link them in with appropriate services.
If an unmet need is identified during a court hearing, the NJO can facilitate a referral for treatment or intervention and ensure there is effective communication between the court, service providers and the client.
If the therapeutic needs of a person are unclear to the court, the Magistrate can ask the NJO to make further enquiries to assist in identifying specific needs and potential referral options and present this information back to the court. This work usually happens in collaboration with lawyers, police prosecutors, Community Correctional Services, and the Client Services Team at the NJC.
The NJO provides case management support for cases that are high risk and complex. Case management usually involves short term, intensive service co-ordination to ensure the clients are engaging with appropriate support services and that these supports work cohesively.
Supporting the operation of court
The NJO assists the functioning of the court and supports procedural justice by:
- Meeting with and advising the magistrate of local community and cultural issues that may impact on the handling of matters
- Provides clients with Plain language information about the court procedures
- Informs external lawyers about our services and options available to their clients
- Ensuring that smooth referrals are made to support services. This may include making introductions between a client and a practitioner or providing additional information to what was verbally conveyed in court
- Meeting with clients shortly after they arrive in the NJC custody cells to assess their welfare and identify any referrals that need to be made, such as to a duty lawyer or client services
At the request of the Magistrate, lawyers or service providers, the NJO facilitates the provision of relevant information to the NJC Magistrate to assist in the sentencing and management of individuals before the court. This includes information on the social background, treatment history and family or support networks of the accused, as well as available programs and services pertinent to a client's needs.
Problem Solving Process
The NJO facilitates our Problem Solving Process, which is designed to assist NJC clients who are struggling to engage or maintain engagement with therapeutic interventions or their Community Correction Order.
The problem-solving process provides NJC clients and their supports (including family, friends, and professionals) with the opportunity to meet as a group and work collaboratively to explore obstacles the client is experiencing and generate practical and achievable actions to address these issues. It also aims to assist the magistrate by providing additional context to inform their decision making. This process is entirely voluntary, and a client can be referred at any point during their contact with the justice system, from being charged to the end of a sentence.
Stakeholder collaboration: addressing service delivery gaps or community needs
The NJO plays a key role in identifying service delivery gaps or unmet community needs, as well as bringing together service providers and stakeholders to develop a solution to such.
The stakeholders involved in responding to these issues are often diverse, involving the justice and social service sectors. Collaboration can be challenging, particularly when differing goals, conflicting approaches, and varying resources put pressure on stakeholder relations. In representing our needs and understanding stakeholders’ interests through partnerships with local community agencies and participation in local working groups, the NJO provides the information we need to work effectively with services and enhance the chances for successful collaboration.