Take Me Koala Back, Jack
The distance between San Francisco, my home airport, and Melbourne, Australia is 7,860 miles and the flight time is about 17 ½ hours including a change of planes in Los Angeles. However, when you get there it’s always surprising how much more we are like the Aussies than not.
I recently spent a month Down Under and it was my 10th trip to Australia and New Zealand. I am lucky enough to be able to do consulting, mainly with the courts, so can afford to stay for long periods of time. In Melbourne, there has been a drug treatment court in a suburb called Dandenong for a number of years but it was only in 2016 that the Attorney General announced the creation of two new courts in the Central Business District of Melbourne. I was asked to develop a training session for the drug treatment court teams on Incentives, Sanctions and Treatment Adjustments.
Just as I have a few times before, I stayed at the Mantra on Little Bourke. It is a small boutique hotel with mini suites and is located across the street from the Supreme Court. It is conveniently located and has a nice feel to it. I’ve always been comfortable there.
During my stay, I worked closely with the Chief Drug Treatment Court Magistrate Tony Parsons and Elisa Buggy, Drug Court Education Project Manager for the Judicial College of Victoria. I had the opportunity to sit on the bench with the new drug court magistrate in Dandenong, Gerard Bryant, and with Magistrate Parsons as well. After a jam-packed week in Victoria, I was off to Tasmania.
Hobart and Launceston, Tasmania
Tasmania is Australia’s island state that hangs off the southeast tip of the continent. It is mostly known for the endangered Tasmanian Devils and as the birthplace of Errol Flynn. It doesn’t usually land on the itinerary of American tourists but this visit was my fourth there.
I was brought to Tasmania on this occasion by a joint effort of PACCOA (the Probation and Community Corrections Officers’ Association), Community Corrections and the Hobart Magistrates Court to speak about adult drug court best practice standards I did the training in both Hobart, at the southern tip of Tasmania, and Launceston, 123 miles away at the tippy top. I was also able to spend time with Chief Magistrate Michael Hill (Ret.), Deputy Chief Magistrate Michael Daly and Liz Moore, Court Diversion Officer. After a presentation at the Law Society, Chief Magistrate Cath Rheinberger hosted dinner for me and the magistrates at the best restaurant in Hobart — Landscape in the Henry Jones Art Hotel on the waterfront.
Queensland was recovering from hurricanes and flooding when I hit town and my first meeting was cancelled due to inclement weather. Some streets were still closed but the weather continued to improve each day. I was briefed by the Drug and Specialist Courts Review Team on their progress since I met with them last year. I next met with the Interagency Working Group for the Drug and Specialist Courts Review and was then up to speed on the progress of reinstating the Drug Treatment Courts in the state. I also did a presentation on “Identifying the AODTC Team and the Role of its Members” and “Tough on Crime is not Smart on Crime.”
Queensland had drug courts for about 10 years when a change of government closed them down. The current government, the Labour Party, promised to re-open them and the process moves forward with the commitment to evidence-based practices and one court in Brisbane to start with.
It so happened that the week I was there coincided with the Magistrates’ State Conference. I gave a presentation on the Role of the Drug Treatment Court Judge and served as the banquet’s after dinner speaker. His Honour Judge Orazio (“Ray”) Rinaudo, Chief Magistrate, was a gracious host as usual and I regaled the attendees with the funny stories that occurred over my 30+ years on the bench.
The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council’s Inaugural Sentencing Seminar had me present on evidence-based sentencing. You can hear the podcast. The Banco Court at the QEII Courts of Law was sold out.
Sydney, New South Wales
The event that started this whole trip was an invitation to present at the Second International Conference on Non-Adversarial Justice sponsored by the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration, Inc., a group for which I have presented multiple times. Many old friends were there including David Wexler, one of the “fathers of Therapeutic Jurisprudence.” My presentation, “Crossing the Ethical Line in Problem-Solving Courts” was a hit. The conference banquet, which I attended with J. Kim Wright of Cutting Edge Law fame, was held at Luna Park, an amusement park on Sydney Harbour. It was a fun venue all right.
Auckland, New Zealand
I landed in Auckland during Easter week and Good Friday and Easter Monday were both holidays. Judges Ema Aitkin and Lisa Tremewan will celebrate their fifth anniversary with the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court/Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua (“The House that Lifts the Spirits”) in November and it will be up to Parliament to extend the pilot project and roll out AODTCs to the whole country. The judges were gracious enough to let me sit on the bench with them during their court sessions, a privilege I always enjoy. We also had a nice dinner with all the court staff and I met with the Community Advisory Group to discuss their fundraising for the courts. It was a restful week and I appreciated the time to just catch up with myself. I know I’ll be back and that always makes leaving less painful. I do love it there.