The Judicial Commission’s Ngara Yura Program was initially established in the early 1990s in response to the final recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody that judicial officers should receive instruction and education on matters relating to Aboriginal customs, culture, traditions and society.
Judicial officers have an important responsibility to “listen, learn and lead” when dealing with Indigenous Australians who come before them. The Ngara Yura Program aims to increase awareness among judicial officers about contemporary Aboriginal social and cultural issues, and their effect on Aboriginal people in the justice system. Aboriginal people appear before all state courts in NSW as parties and witnesses in both criminal and civil proceedings. In order for justice to be done and be seen to be done, it is essential that judicial officers understand a wide range of issues relating to Aboriginal people, most particularly their history and customs (including behavioural norms and languages/dialects spoken and understood). The Ngara Yura Program also provides Aboriginal people with an opportunity to learn about the judicial process.
The Ngara Yura Program is delivered through three main strategies:
- visits by judicial officers to Aboriginal communities in NSW
- conferences, workshops and seminars