Combined Courtworkers are located in 13 locations and guide Indigenous adults and youth charged with a criminal offence, Indigenous families involved in family court, and Indigenous families involved in the child welfare system.
The Aboriginal Combined Courtwork Program assists accused offenders to better understand their rights, options and responsibilities when appearing before the courts, through the guidance of a Courtworker. Indigenous Courtworkers are not Lawyers and do not give legal advice. Courtworkers are advocates who speak on a person’s behalf if they can’t or won’t speak for themselves while involved in the criminal justice system.
Assistance is provided to navigate the court process in the following ways:
- Completion of an intake assessment and the development of a plan of action to identify issues which brought the person before the court;
- Accompaniment Indigenous persons appearing in adult and youth criminal court, and family and child protection court; Explanation of adult, youth, child protection and family court processes;
- Explanation of the charges and court orders against the accused;
- Explanation of the philosophy and functioning of the criminal justice system;
- Explanation of legal resources mandated or available in courts (Mandatory Parent Information Sessions, Mediation, Legal Aid)
- Referrals to Friendship Centre programs and other Indigenous and non-Indigenous community services;
- Advocating for Indigenous youth and adults charged with a criminal offence to be diverted outside of the court process and to address issues which brought them before the court;
- Supporting separating couples and families dealing with child welfare matters and to encourage alternative dispute resolution processes outside of the court process where both parties voluntarily agree;
- Responding to problems caused by communication barriers that exist between Indigenous people and those who are involved in the administration of the justice system;
- Assistance in the completion and filing of family court forms;
- Attending court conferences as requested