Happy 10th Birthday Neighbourhood Justice Centre

Happy 10th Birthday Neighbourhood Justice Centre

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Congratulations to the Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC) in Collingwood which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary.

Launched in January 2007, the centre is a shining example of an holistic legal service, combining a court with a variety of treatment and support services, including mediation, legal advice, employment and housing support, financial counselling, alcohol and drug support, general counselling and mental health services.

We are proud to have shared a close relationship with the NJC since its inception, with many of our current and past lawyers working at the centre, and full of praise for its benefits.

Broadmeadows Deputy Managing Lawyer Julia Love appreciated the ‘one-stop-shop’ set up of the NJC.

‘The ability to see a new client, identify a non-legal issue and instantly introduce a client to support services is invaluable, as the assistance provided to clients in a timely matter could be life-changing.'

Lawyer Libby Penman said the centre‘s centralised services and community justice model were a major contributor to its success and how it benefited clients.

‘To have all the services our clients need working together under the one roof is such a great model, and helps address the underlying causes of offending.

‘Our clients have also benefited greatly from the availability of therapeutic and restorative processes that are unique to the NJC, and it would be fantastic to see these made available elsewhere.

‘These processes include ‘problem solving meetings’ facilitated by the Neighbourhood Justice Officer between clients, support workers, lawyers and occasionally Community Corrections, and aim to assist clients in overcoming barriers to their rehabilitation.’

Legal Help Lawyer Serge Sztrajt said the NJC also performed important work via its community engagement and educational section.

‘The community engagement section works with the local council and Victoria Police as well as local retail, commercial and welfare organisations in order to mediate and resolve areas of disagreement.

‘As the Neighbourhood Justice Centre is not beholden to any particular interest group, it is regarded as an honest broker who can bring disparate groups together and try and broker consensus for the good of the local community.'

Managing Director Bevan Warner is a strong advocate of the NJC model and believes our collaboration with the centre has helped Victoria Legal Aid educate the community that legal problems are often the manifestation of other problems in our client’s lives.

‘The Neighbourhood Justice Centre introduced an holistic model that dared to be different.

‘Since then we have had the Assessment and Referral Court List (ARC) in the Magistrates’ Court and our own Independent Mental Health Advocacy Services (IMHA) has become operational.

‘We need to keep challenging and trialling new ways of doing justice better and having more cross discipline collaborations like the NJC is a step in the right direction.

‘In practical terms, we look to our embryonic partnership with Sunraysia Community Health in Mildura to give us fresh momentum for more health justice partnerships, because, on the evidence, this will help us get to clients earlier, prevent their problems from escalating in complexity and minimise contact with the justice system.

‘The Neighbourhood Justice Centre was pioneering in this area.

‘I congratulate the Neighbourhood Justice Centre on their 10th anniversary and look forward to continuing our strong collaboration,’ said Bevan.

More information 

Find out more about the Neighbourhood Justice Centre.