Artwork: My Dragon, My Angel by Innes 2016 Urban Campfire art program NJC
About Community Corrections Services
A team of community corrections officers—referred to as 'Corrections/officers' for ease of reading—are located at the Neighbourhood Justice Centre.
Corrections officers supervise people serving community correction orders (CCOs) or people paroled (released) from prison.
Supervision includes regular face-to-face meetings, and monitoring compliance with tasks the court has ordered such participation in education programs, community work, drug detox, and mental health clinical support.
While the Corrections team at the NJC perform the same duties as their colleagues at justice service centres and courts across Victoria, here Corrections is part of a uniquely multi-disciplinary, holistic approach to offender rehabilitation.
Community Corrections at the NJC
Corrections officers works closely with the NJC's Court, Client Services, social service agencies external to the NJC, and the client.
Collaboration begins with the NJC laying the groundwork when, as appropriate, the Magistrate and the legal representatives refer clients to Client Services before sentencing.
Client Services assess clients’ psycho-social issues and establish treatment and support pathways. (Alcohol and drug, and complex mental health supports are the predominate services required).
This groundwork gives Corrections in-depth understanding of clients' risks and needs before they commence their orders.
Throughout the duration of the CCO, Corrections and Client Services may exchange information, with Corrections providing updates on clients’ well-being and compliance with the order. Adverse situations or issues in the client's life are identified, and interventions such as Problem Solving Process and new/modified treatment pathways are rapidly adopted.
Client Services is available at any time, which means Corrections clients avail of financial counselling, job readiness programs, help to sort out fines, housing assistance, to name a few are readily available at any time.
Assessment and deferred sentencing
Corrections assesses the offender's risk of reoffending and suitability to undertake community correction orders. Assessment considers the person’s family and social situation, employment status, work history, mental health, substance use and history, as well as their motivation to turn their lives around.
During assessment Corrections may identify issues previously unknown to the court, and which may adversely affect the person’s ability to comply with the conditions of the order.
When Corrections identifies a reason that negates the appropriateness of a CCO, Corrections may recommend the court defers sentencing to address what are often complex issues.
Corrections will then work with Client Services, legal representatives, and/or with the Neighourhood Justice Officer who convenes the Problem Solving Process, to support the client.
Deferring sentencing to problem-solve deleterious circumstances greatly improves the likelihood of clients successfully completing court orders.
During the course of a CCO the NJC's Court will conduct Judicial Monitoring Hearing.
The Judicial Monitoring Hearing is a meeting at which the Magistrate and client to review the client’s progress, personal circumstances, and compliance with the condition of the order. Corrections officers also attend.
If the client is progressing well, the Magistrate takes the opportunity to provide words of encouragement.
Conversely, the Magistrate can refer the client to additional support such as the Problem Solving Process if circumstances in the person's life need to be addressed.
Judicial Monitoring typically occurs frequently in the early stages of a CCO, and taper off as the client continues to comply with the conditions of the order.
The process is an important component in NJC's collaborative approach to lowing recidivism rates and improving public safety.
"A young client of mine had multiple, complex needs. The Magistrate deferred his sentence so we could prioritise his needs. At the time of the deferral he wasn’t engaging with me or other Client Services. He was resistant. He was willing to talk, but not to follow through on the programs we’d put in place.
During his deferral he took part in a problem solving meeting, and the experience of having so many people around the table helping him by working with him made a profound impact.
Apart from coming out of the meeting with a modified mental health plan, he said to me: “I’ve never had so many people put so much into me.”
The court sentenced him to a CCO. What was interesting to me was that my client had always interacted with the Magistrate in court, but now you could see there was trust and a relationship between my clients and the Magistrate. Not just talk. They had a real conversation.
Despite a recent mental health diagnosis, he held it together. Before he’d have fallen apart.
He’s also motivated and proactive about treatment. He even wants to engage with the financial counsellor to do family financial planning. He recognises the need for structure in his life, and time for his kids and partner.
These are big changes as previously his life was chaos.
What’s significant is seeing his progress over a period of time, and his increased level of maturity.
I get to see his progress through the review process [Judicial Monitoring], which is unique to the NJC. At other courts my involvement ends post-sentencing.
That’s what’s great about the NJC. You can get clients the help they need".
Client Services case worker.
Long-term continuity of care
At the end of a successfully completed community correction order matter is discharged by the the Court.
However, NJC clients with complex issues may continue to receive support through the Centre’s Client Services, and the Centre sees the longevity of support as critical to long-term rehabilitation.
Close to 80% NJC’s clients on community correction orders successful completed their orders. The state average is around 40.1%.
The Centre's multi-disciplinary approach to information sharing and collaborative treatment and support management ensures a strong foundation for the successful completion of community correction orders.