The Children's Court aims to provide an efficient, fair and effective court service for children, families and the community of New South Wales. We are constantly working hard to improve our practices to achieve this aim.
Some of our recent innovations include:
Youth Koori Court at Parramatta and Surry Hills Children's Courts
The Children's Court has established a Youth Koori Court for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. The Youth Koori Court commenced as a pilot at Parramatta Children’s Court in 2015 and was expanded to Surry Hills Children’s Court in February 2019.
The Youth Koori Court is a deferred sentencing option that aims to better engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people by including Elders and other respected people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the court process. Support is then provided to help the young person address the underlying factors that have led to the young person’s offending.
The Children's Court utilises audiovisual link facilities at weekends to ensure that all juveniles throughout the state who are arrested and not granted bail by police are brought before a magistrate at the earliest opportunity. This innovation also means that lawyers are always available to represent juveniles at weekend bail hearings.
The Children's Court has introduced changes to the way it conducts alternative dispute resolution in care and protection cases following recommendations by The Honourable James Wood AO QC in his 2008 report of the 'Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW'. This program allows the parties to agree on action that should be taken in the best interests of the child or young person concerned.
In February 2010 the Children's Court adopted a new model of dispute resolution. Dispute Resolution Conferences are a form of conciliation conducted by Children's Registrars who are legally qualified and trained in alternative dispute resolution techniques. At the same time, the Children's Court trialled an external mediation pilot at Bidura. Both models were independently evaluated and received a positive outcome.
The following transcripts provide further information about these programs:
- Part 1 - Background information on the two Alternate Dispute Resolution programs. Transcript (PDF , n/a)
- Part 2 - New model of Dispute Resolution Conference. Transcript (PDF , n/a)
- Part 3 - External mediation pilot (the Bidura pilot) and the independent evaluation of both programs. Transcript (PDF , n/a)
The Children's Court conducts permanent circuits in regional areas of NSW to allow specialist Children's Magistrates to deal with care and protection cases. Country care circuits operate in the Northern Rivers, Western, Mid North Coast and Riverina regions.
Following the successful trial of a docket system in 2010 the Children's Court has adopted a modified form of docket system at Parramatta Children's Court. As far as practicably possible the same judicial officer is allocated to the Monday and Friday care and protection lists to ensure consistency in the management of cases prior to hearing and to reduce the time taken to finalise the case.