Over the reporting period, work occurred on implementing legislative reforms affecting the courts and ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT). This included changes to the ACAT’s jurisdiction under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, requiring changes to processes and communication with stakeholders. The changes related to payment orders, co-tenants, rental bond disputes and occupancy agreements. 

Management of Drug and Alcohol Sentencing List

During the year the Drug and Alcohol Sentencing List (DASL) continued in the Supreme Court. The DASL Courtroom and Urinalysis suite have continued to support the work of the court and have proved effective. The cohort of DASL participants has steadily increased and successful completions of the program have been demonstrated.

The DASL offers an alternative approach to rehabilitating offenders whose crime is related to drug or alcohol dependency. The aim of the DASL is to improve people’s health and well-being, reintegrate them into the community and reduce criminal offending.

Therapeutic Care Court (Care and Protection Intensive List)

During the reporting period the ACTCT commenced the rollout of the Therapeutic Care Court in the Children’s Court for care and protection matters through the care and protection intensive list.

The court engaged its first participants for court-led interventions for parents whose children have been removed from their care or are at risk of being removed from their care. The Court will aim to address parental substance abuse issues, parenting capacity issues, family violence and mental health issues.

Family Liaison Officer

During the year the ACTCT continued the work of the Family Liaison Officer for the Coroners Court. The role supports families and friends as matters progress through the Coronial system. This includes proactively providing information to family members of the deceased on the progress of
the matter and referrals to support services.

Jury Management System

The current ICT jury management system is used to support the processes for selecting jurors, managing juror payments and related matters. As the system is over 15 years old, it has limited functionality and is no longer supported, arrangements are underway for it to be replaced. The new ICT system will allow jurors and potential jurors to interact with the court with channel options, including a new juror portal.

The impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency on court work including the suspension of jury trials has postponed the launch of the new system into 2021-22.  Development and testing are progressing well.  Launch of the new system is expected in December 2021.

Criminal Case Conferencing

The Supreme Court continued to undertake criminal case conferencing which aims to reduce the number of matters that proceed to trial and to decrease the issues in dispute for those matters that do proceed. Over 30% of matters listed for criminal conferences continued to resolve by way of pleas of guilty at the time of the conferencing and before the criminal call-over, saving the need to list trials with the anticipation that they still may resolve just prior to or on the day of the trial.

Conferencing has created efficiencies for the Court, prosecution and defence and reduced the trauma for victims and other witnesses by avoiding the need for them to give evidence.