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The respected elders of Yuendumu Community supported the Magistrate Court sitting in Yuendumu on 13 and 14th of December 2011. Prior to the court sitting, the elders from Mediation and Justice Committee met at the Mediation Centre for 3 hours, discussed on court list and made recommendations to the Magistrate. Eleven members including five women from the mediation committee were present at the meeting.
There were 42 cases with 36 people on the list for Yuendumu court. The members discussed each case in Warlpiri language and put forward their concerns to the Magistrate. The elders were very worried about their young fellas not doing things in the right way and ending up in gaol.
The meeting decided to recommend to the Magistrate that a second chance be given for minor offenses and to give the offenders an opportunity to change his/her behaviour through community work orders, home detention or fines rather gaol time. “We want to see the young fellas doing good work in the community rather than staying in prison for minor offences,” the members expressed their worries in the meeting.
Before the court session on the 13th, the elders from the Mediation and Justice Committee submitted the recommendations to the Magistrate. During two days of court sessions the elders discussed with lawyers, defendants and the people involved about their concerns. Thirteen highly respected elders from the committee sat alongside the Magistrate and supported the decision making process. Enid Gallagher, Nellie Wayne, Coral Gallagher, Walter Lechleitner, Harry Dixon, Riley Oldfield, Angeline Tasman, Cecil Johnson, Gracie Johnson, Bessie Simms, Lucy Dixon, Thomas Rice and Rex Granites were the representatives from the committee who attended the Yuendumu court session.
On the last day of court session, elders had lunch together with Magistrate, judicial support officers, lawyers, representatives from community correction section and persecutors which helped to build good relationship.
On this occasion, none of the people from the community were sent to gaol, this is a positive outcome and is a credit to the elder’s active involvement in the process. The Central Desert Shire has been supporting the mediation and justice committee for over four years. For more information on the Mediation and Justice Committee please talk to Madhu Panthee, Domestic Violence Educator on (08) 8956 4245.