9. Creating cultural change for inclusive juries
9.1 Reforms of the kind being considered by the Commission would involve cultural change. Staff of the courts and the justice system more generally may require special training to enable them to accommodate and support people in the subject groups who serve on juries.
Disability awareness training for court staff
9.2 It will be important to deliver training to court staff to assist them to make reasonable adjustments for deaf or blind jurors and respectfully communicate with people with disabilities, as previous reports have recommended. The training should have a practical focus.
9.3 The Commission understands that disability awareness training has been provided in the court system and to Sheriff office staff in the Australian Capital Territory. The ACT Courts website states that on-line training is offered to all staff to raise cultural awareness and competency and assist in the transition to implement the recent legislative amendments to allow people with disabilities to be jurors.
Disability awareness training for judges and lawyers
9.4 Academic research suggests that there is prejudice and concern in the legal profession about the competency of jurors assisted by Auslan interpreters, the levels of Auslan comprehension, the translatability of legal concepts from English to Auslan and the role the interpreter would play during the legal proceedings. After conducting the 2014 Mock Trial, the researchers noted that legal stakeholders had ‘reservations about the cognitive and language skills of prospective deaf jurors’ and reported that ‘education should take place regarding the perceptions of hearing jurors who may think that deaf people are not as smart as people who can hear.’ To encourage cultural change it may be important for lawyers, judges, court officers and Juries Victoria staff to have access to disability awareness training.
9.5 Disability awareness training could be provided to the legal profession in a range of ways. Educational seminars could be offered to judges by the Judicial College of Victoria. The Law Institute of Victoria or the Victorian Bar could provide ongoing professional development sessions to legal professionals in partnership with advocacy organisations or service delivery agencies. Similar training could be a component of mandatory Practical Legal Training prior to legal admission for young lawyers.
40 Would Disability Awareness Training for court and Juries Victoria staff be useful to ensure reform is effective?
41 Do you have any suggestions about how to overcome misconceptions about the ability of people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or with low vision to serve?
42 Is there anything further that you would like to tell us about what you think would improve the participation of people who are deaf, hard of hearing blind or who have low vision on juries in Victoria?
Law Reform Commission of Western Australia, Selection, Eligibility and Exemption of Jurors (Report No 99, April 2010); New South Wales Law Reform Commission, Blind or Deaf Jurors (Report No 114, September 2006) 61 <https://www.lawreform.justice.nsw.gov.au> Recommendation 4; Queensland Law Reform Commission, A Review of Jury Selection (Report No 68, 2011) 228 Recommendation 58.
ACT Department of Justice and Community Safety, ‘ACT Courts’, For the Multicultural Community (Web Page) <https://courts.act.gov.au/coming-to-court/get-support/for-the-multicultural-community>.
Sandra Hale et al, Participation in the Administration of Justice: Deaf Citizens as Jurors (Australian Research Council Linkage Project No 120200261, 2016) 20.
Law Institute of Victoria, ‘Legal Compliance’, CPD Requirements (Web Page) <https://www.liv.asn.au/Professional-Practice/Compliance/CPD-Compliance/CPD-requirements—FAQs>.