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South Australian Government enshrines Indigenous Nunga Court into judicial system

Callan Morse -

Aboriginal voice in South Australia's criminal justice system will be protected by law, with the State Government legislating to secure the future of Nunga Court, Australia's oldest specialist court for the sentencing of Aboriginal people.

Nunga Court operates in South Australia by incorporating Aboriginal community participation in the court process through Elders and respected people in the sentencing of First Nations people.

This is achieved by chosen Indigenous representatives sitting at the same table as magistrates to advise on relevant cultural and community matters and assist in the sentencing process.

First established in 1999, the South Australian government's decision will guarantee Nunga Court's future, ensuring it's continued operation more than 20 years after first being implemented.

In announcing Nunga Court's enshrinement into law, South Australian Attorney-General and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kyam Maher said the decision was an appropriate way to include First Nations peoples in criminal justice proceedings.

"Since Nunga Court's inception, it has allowed members of the state's Aboriginal community to be included in the sentencing process," he said.

"By enshrining the Nunga Court in legislation, we are protecting this important justice mechanism and ensuring Aboriginal communities continue to have a say in our criminal justice system.

"I'm pleased to be able to deliver on this important election commitment which recognises the importance of Aboriginal communities, and builds trust in the criminal justice system."

For a matter to be heard by the Nunga Court, a defendant must have pleaded guilty to charges that can be finalised in the magistrates court.

The Nunga Court currently sits in Port Adelaide, Murray Bridge and Maitland.

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