News + Views

Centre for Innovative Justice turns 10!

Over 100 staff, students and industry partners recently came together to celebrate the tenth anniversary of RMIT’s Centre for Innovative Justice (CIJ).

The CIJ team

Held at The Capitol, this event was a chance to reflect on the impact that the Centre has had across the areas of family violence, disability, women’s incarceration, crime records, systemic reform, and restorative justice.

Launched in 2013 by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the CIJ has introduced and driven innovations to Victoria’s justice system– researching and advocating ways to improve peoples’ experiences of the legal system and aligned services.

The Centre conducts extensive research and uses these findings – most of which involve direct engagement with service users – to develop innovative and practical solutions.

With a focus on therapeutic and restorative justice, the team takes a person-centred approach, and empowers vulnerable people by listening to their lived experiences.

RMIT’s Chancellor, Peggy O’Neal (herself a lawyer) congratulated the CIJ team for their tireless advocacy, research and influence, and for bringing about change.

’You are making affected people the focus of the justice system where they should have been all along,’ she said.

To deliver relevant and innovative solutions, the CIJ partners with multiple organisations, from community legal centres and social service agencies to corporations like KPMG and BHP.

‘We’re pleased that many of our research results in evidence-based, practical solutions which can be applied to complex legal and human experiences, such as our design of court programs to respond to family violence, or our restorative justice programs related to culpable driving, and sexual assault,’ Rob Hulls, CIJ Director said.

‘We’re proud of our achievements in offering innovative solutions to complex legal challenges and advancing justice for the people who need it most in our community.’

One of the standout aspects of the Centre’s work is the experiences that have been offered to RMIT students.

Law students have had the opportunity to connect with top legal professionals in Melbourne and, in some cases, enjoy the challenge of study trips to cities like New York to experience how other legal systems operate.

Social work students benefit from immersion in integrated practice experience through clinical placements at the CIJ’s co-located partners while receiving intensive expert support provided by experienced CIJ staff.

The event featured two panel discussions – one led by Associate Director, Elena Campbell and one led by Associate Director, Stan Winford.

Along with RMIT staff and students, attendees included Tania Wolff, President, Law Institute Victoria, Deborah Glass, Victorian Ombudsman, Justice Michelle Quigley, President, VCAT, Peter Kidd, Chief Judge, County Court, Karin Emerton, President, Court of Appeal, and Louise Glanville, CEO, Victoria Legal Aid.

‘Our work is far from over,’ Rob Hulls said.

‘We are excited to look to the future and continue to explore new ways to improve the justice system.’

Dan Nicholson, Executive Director; Louise Glanville, CEO, Victoria Legal Aid; Rob Hulls, Director, Centre for Innovative Justice; Tania Wolff, President, Law Institute of Victoria