Galambany Circle Sentencing Court

Contributed by Lorana Bartels and Anthony Hopkins. Current to November 2021.

The Galambany Circle Sentencing Court is a specialist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sentencing court that exists as part of the ACT Magistrates Court. It provides a culturally relevant and appropriate sentencing process for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders, in which Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander panel members (often Elders) sit with the presiding Magistrate during the sentencing hearing. Galambany means ‘we all, including you’. It is an inclusive word that recognises the various origins of people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent living in the local area today. It is also inclusive of non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, many of whom support the functions and operations of the Galambany Court. The Galambany Court operates in accordance with procedures set out in the Galambany Court Practice Direction No 1 of 2012. The Sentencing Act continues to apply.

The aims of the Galambany Court are to:
  • Involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the sentencing process;
  • Increase the confidence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the sentencing process;
  • Reduce barriers between the ACT Magistrates Court and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities;
  • Provide culturally relevant and effective sentencing options;
  • Provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders with support services;
  • Provide support to victims of crime and enhance their rights and participation;
  • Reduce repeat offending.
An offender may be referred to the Galambany Court on application to a Magistrate if they meet specified eligibility criteria:
  • The offender must identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person and have ties to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community;
  • The offence must be able to be finalised in the Magistrates Court;
  • The offence must not be a sexual offence;
  • The offender must have pleaded guilty;
  • The offender must consent to an assessment and agree to full participation.
If an offender is assessed as suitable by an assessment panel, then a hearing will be organised. Between two and four Elders or respected members of the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community will participate as panel members at the hearing. The hearing is conducted by the Galambany Court Magistrate in the presence of the offender, their lawyer, the prosecutor and the Galambany Court Coordinator. Members of the offender's family or other support people may participate. The victim or their representative and a support person may also participate.

The hearing process itself is to be conducted in a way that enables the Galambany Court to address the underlying issues causing the offending, encourages full participation of the offender and provides all participants with an opportunity to address the court about the offender's behaviour. Members of the hearing panel may recommend a particular sentence in accordance with the Sentencing Act, having regard to any culturally appropriate or inclusive options. Once the hearing is complete, the Galambany Court Magistrate will sentence the offender.Where the Galambany Court Magistrate is not satisfied that the sentence recommended by the panel is appropriate, the Magistrate is required to provide reasons and inform participants. In the event that an offender breaches a condition of his or her sentence, the Galambany Court may be reconvened.

This site is powered by FoswikiCopyright © by the contributing authors. All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
Ideas, requests, problems regarding AustLII Communities? Send feedback
This website is using cookies. More info. That's Fine