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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin

Nunga courts (Aboriginal sentencing court)



Nunga court (Aboriginal sentencing court) provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants in South Australia with a culturally appropriate sentencing option through participation in a sentencing conference.

The process aims to overcome cultural barriers to understanding the law, court practice and procedure. It also seeks to build relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations, reduce offending, and provide holistic outcomes for Aboriginal defendants through referrals to appropriate medical, mental health and other rehabilitation centres.

Sentencing procedures are less formal when facilitated through a sentencing conference, and victims, family members and community members are also encouraged to attend and participate. Community Elders and Aboriginal Justice Officers provide the Magistrate with advice on relevant cultural and community issues, and additionally provide support to the defendants.

The Nunga courts are available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants who have entered guilty pleas or been found guilty of an offence, and wish to be sentenced via a sentencing conference. The Nunga court sits monthly in Port Adelaide Magistrates Court, monthly in Port August Magistrates Court, and every second month in Murray Bridge Court.

Abstract adapted from the Legal Services Commission of South Australia


Courts Administration Authority South Australia
GPO Box 1068
Adelaide SA 5001
Ph: (08) 8204 2444

Related publications

Tomaino J (2009)

Aboriginal (Nunga) Courts.

Adelaide: South Australian Office of Crime Statistics and Research

Marchetti E, Daly K (2004)

Indigenous courts and justice practices in Australia.

Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology


Last updated: 11 August 2015
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