Courts and Tribunal Canine Therapy Support Program

The Court and Tribunal environment can be stressful for a range of court and tribunal users, particularly victims and children. The aim of the Canine Therapy Support Program is to reduce the anxiety of vulnerable persons when attending the courts or tribunal. The Canine Therapy Support Program involves a therapy dog and their volunteer handler visiting the courts for a few hours per week specifically supporting children, vulnerable persons, victims, and other court and tribunal users.

The ACT Courts and Tribunal conducted a procurement process during 2020-21 to continue the Canine Therapy Support Program. Guide Dogs NSW/ACT was selected as the provider to continue the service for another three years with an option to extend. Information about the program is also available on the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT website.

 

Video information

Throughout the year the ACT Courts and Tribunal continued to develop videos to improve access to justice from within existing resources. The videos were a collaborative effort amongst our staff with staff developing scripts, acting, filming, undertaking voiceovers, video editing and publishing the videos on our website.  The videos assist court and tribunal users to learn about processes and key concepts used during court and tribunal hearings.

Videos developed throughout 2020-21 included:

  • Coming to Court
  • Do you need assistance whilst at the ACT Courts or Tribunal?
  • ACAT – Preparing a Witness Statement
  • ACAT – Lodging and Serving Documents
  • ACAT - Do I need to be represented at ACAT?
  • ACAT – Preparing a Timeline
  • ACAT – How to Prepare a Submission

Supporting people from a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Background

In 2021 a factsheet was developed to complement a new video explaining key information for persons Coming to court. Both the factsheet and video explain the essential things people might need to know when ‘coming to court’ like opening hours, security screening, facilities and court etiquette. The factsheet was translated into 20 languages including: Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic, Korean, Vietnamese, Turkish, Thai, Filipino, Indonesian, Hindi, Punjabi Tamil (Sir Lanka), Karen (Myanmar), Dinka (Sudanese), Dari (Afghanistan), Farsi (Persian) and will be available for publication on our website in late 2021. 

The ACT Magistrates Court has information on family violence and protection orders available at www.courts.act.gov.au/protection. This information is translated into 11 languages being Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic, Korean, Vietnamese, Tamil (Sir Lanka), Karen (Myanmar), Dinka (Sudanese), Dari (Afghanistan), Farsi (Persian).  A project to translate factsheets into another six languages being Turkish, Thai, Filipino, Indonesian, Hindi and Punjabi was initiated in May 2021.

The languages were identified for translation after analysing Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census data on English proficiency in the ACT, TIS National www.tisnational.gov.au interpreter demand data for the ACT and settlement data regarding emerging communities in the ACT.

Factsheets can be found at www.courts.act.gov.au/protectiontranslated and video scripts at www.courts.act.gov.au/protection.

A project to translate video scripts on ACAT conferences and hearings into 20 languages commenced in June 2021 which will assist ‘access to justice’ for people from non-English speaking backgrounds by explaining the conference and hearing process in their language.

Supporting people with a disability

As part of the ACT Government’s Disability Justice Strategy, the ACT Courts and Tribunal received funding and have engaged a Disability Liaison Officer (DLO). The DLO has audited our facilities and reviewed our capability to provide reasonable adjustments for people with disability when attending the courts or tribunal.  A list of improvements has been identified which the DLO is working across the ACTC to improve accessibility and access to justice. 

A video ‘Do you need assistance when attending the Courts or Tribunal?” was produced this year. The video explains how the ACT Courts and Tribunal have Assistance Officers who can assist vulnerable people or people with specific needs and outlines a range of supports people can receive when attending the courts or tribunal.  The video is available on the ACT Courts website at www.courts.act.gov.au/disability.

ACAT Members portal

During 2020-21 work occurred on the development of a Members portal. The portal will assist members by bringing together bench materials, training materials, guidelines, policies, procedures, and other resources into an intranet site.