Do you have excellent listening skills, good life experience, a reasonable understanding of court administration and the ability to advocate on behalf of another person?
If you answered yes, you could be a suitable candidate for the next intake of Gippsland’s Court Network support program which kicks off early next year.
The program offers help and assistance to court users by providing referral advice and simplifying often confusing court terminology.
Seven volunteers recently graduated from the program, conducted in Traralgon, which aims to provide emotional support for people who come before the courts.
Gippsland Court Network organiser Deb Brown said training would start in February with volunteers then expected to work one day a week in the Latrobe Valley Law Courts.
“It’s not our role to provide legal support, we’re the experts in providing support information and referrals,” Ms Brown said.
“The volunteers sit in the court room with the court users to help de-jargon the information so that the person who is appearing before the court fully understands what’s going on.”
Ms Brown said training would be provided free of charge with volunteers remunerated if they were expected to travel to Melbourne for the occasional training session.
A recent graduate of the Court Network program Brian Finlay said he was looking for a new challenge when he signed up to become a volunteer.
“I’m retired now and it was a matter of what could I do to amuse myself,” Mr Finlay said.
“I also wanted to give something back to the community and I thought this was both an interesting and easy way to do that.
“I’m sure it’s going to have its challenges but I’m looking forward to getting out and really making a difference.”
The program offers support to people in the Magistrates’, Children’s, Coroners’, Koori, County and Supreme courts and provides referral services and assistance to family members of people in custody.
“Part of the role is to check with everyone who is coming through the court that they have legal representation, have spoken with legal representation or have had contact with the duty solicitor,” Ms Brown said.
“We provide all essential training in regards to the court administration side of things and then we provide training on specific areas so for instance; advocacy, family violence, referrals and witness support.”
“It’s really about making a difference for these people who go before the courts and often don’t get the assistance they sometimes require.”
For more information about the Court Network, phone 1800 681 614 or visit courtnetwork.com.au