Mock court at the Newman Court House
The Martu Leadership Program participants have found themselves in court. But not because people are in trouble, but because they want to learn about how the whitefella court system works.
Six women from the women’s leadership program spent a day in the Newman court facilities where they participated in a number of mock (yurmu) court sessions. The roles were switched around and people got a chance to see what it’s like in all the positions in the court room.
The women took on the roles of Magistrate, the defence, the prosecution, and referees. This was the first time the women had ever done anything like this. However, everybody was keen to take it on.
“Yesterday with the mock court was a bit different. It was the first time for me in court and I was shaking. It was like I was doing it for real . . .” – Janelle Booth
The mock court was supported by the Pilbara Magistrate, the Newman Police Officer-in-charge and two lawyers from the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) and Legal Aid. In the mock sessions, the roles were also reversed. Cases were heard in Martu wangka (language) and the non-Martu present took it in turns playing the role of the offender. Pilbara Magistrate Michelle Ridley also played the offender and was sentenced in Martu wangka (language) by one of the Martu women playing the Magistrate. This reversal of roles really highlighted the language barrier and corresponding lack of understanding of what’s happening. Most Martu who come before the court do not have the support of an interpreter.
The Martu Leadership group has worked closely with the Magistrate, the Police, ALS and Legal Aid Lawyers to change the way that Martu are currently affected by the criminal justice system. We would like to thank all of these agencies for their generous collaboration with the Martu leadership team.