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Ngara Yura Committee Terms of Reference

Purpose of this document

This document sets out the terms of reference, composition and operating arrangements of the Judicial Commission’s Ngara Yura Committee (previously known as the Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Committee).

Aims

  1. To implement recommendation 96 of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and organise an appropriate education and development program for judicial officers, designed to explain contemporary Aboriginal society, customs and traditions. (Such programs should emphasise the historical and social factors which contribute to the disadvantaged position of many Aboriginal people, and to the nature of relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. The Commission further recommends that judicial officers should wherever possible participate in discussion with members of the Aboriginal community in an informal way in order to improve cross-cultural understanding.)
  2. To increase the knowledge of judicial officers about Aboriginal culture and issues impacting upon Aboriginal offenders which contribute to their over-representation in the criminal justice system.
  3. To provide a framework for ongoing partnership and relationships between the various Aboriginal justice agencies, judicial education bodies, government and community based organisations in addressing issues of relevance to judicial officers.
  4. To promote an understanding of equal justice and its application to members of the Aboriginal community in the administration of the law.

Guiding principles

The Committee will:

  • acknowledge and respect the traditional owners at all times, according to recognised cultural protocols
  • recognise and acknowledge cultural diversity across nations and amongst Aboriginal communities
  • deliver services and programs in an ethical manner, based on responsibility and mutual respect
  • involve Aboriginal people in the operation and development of education programs.

Membership

The Ngara Yura Committee consists of:

  • Judicial members: nominated by the Head of Jurisdiction and appointed from time to time.
  • Aboriginal members: nominated by the Committee, invited to join by the Judicial Commission and appointed from time to time.
  • The Judicial Commission’s Chief Executive and Education Director: who are ex-officio members.

The Chair will be selected from the membership of the Committee and may serve for a period of three years and may be subject to reappointment for one further term.

Functions

The Ngara Yura Committee has been established to:

  • develop the Judicial Commission’s Ngara Yura Program and associated events including workshops, seminars and community visits
  • provide advice and recommendations to the Judicial Commission and its Education Committees regarding the learning needs of NSW judicial officers and about culturally appropriate education and training opportunities to meet those learning needs
  • provide advice to the Judicial Commission regarding trends and emerging issues associated with Aboriginal people before the courts and criminal justice system matters
  • assist the Judicial Commission to develop and implement programs designed to describe and explain Aboriginal culture, including society, customs and traditions, to judicial officers
  • provide culturally appropriate advice and support to judicial officers in relation to Aboriginal issues
  • provide opportunities for Aboriginal people to learn about the judicial process
  • share in the dissemination of culturally appropriate educational information, resources and associated material for the benefit of judicial officers and the judicial system.

Meetings

The Ngara Yura Committee will meet approximately every three months. Additional meetings can be held as necessary to consider specific issues referred to the Committee by the Judicial Commission. Where practicable, the agenda together with reports and documents that relate to the Committee will be forwarded to members in sufficient time to enable consideration prior to meetings. Minutes will be kept of each meeting of the Committee.