Dialog Box


Court in session for refugee students

A stolen wallet, a shoplifted t-shirt, one young suspect. These are the makings of the mock trial which is the culmination of the Justice Education Series; a ten-week program that aims to educate young people about laws and the judicial system.

The North Geelong Secondary College students – most are from refugee backgrounds – have gathered in Court Room 3 at the Geelong Magistrate’s Court to role play a simulated court session and to learn about the components of a court proceeding, including questioning and cross-examination of witnesses, and presenting evidence.

Students have taken on various roles: Court Clerk, Magistrate, Prosecutor, Defence Lawyer etc and have donned various props – oversized gowns and a fake wig - to help them get into character.  Shane Foyster, Lawyer from Barwon Community Legal Service, directs the action as the students read from prepared scripts.

‘Wally’, the ‘Defendant’, has been charged with stealing a wallet from a woman’s handbag and a t-shirt from a clothing store. ‘Wally’ has admitted to stealing the t-shirt in order to join a gang, but denies stealing the wallet.

The Prosecutor and Defence Lawyer take turns to question the Victims, a Police Officer and ‘Wally’, before the Magistrate hands down his decision.

And the verdict? The Magistrate decides that ‘Wally’ is not guilty of stealing the wallet before sentencing ‘Wally’ to 20 hours of community service for stealing the t-shirt.

The students return their props and curiously explore the court room before piling into the bus which will take them back to school.

Who knows? Perhaps the experience will have sparked an interest for some of the students to pursue a law-related career. More importantly, the exercise has taught them about consequences; it is no accident that the scenario played out is one that involves young people and peer pressure. If the mock trial has helped to improve their judgement and decision-making – then that is a lesson that will serve them well into the future.

Acknowledgments: thank you to the interagency speakers and community partners who have helped to deliver the Justice Education series, including: North Geelong Secondary College, Senior Court Registrar Mark Baker of Geelong Magistrates’ Court, and the fOrT Youth Centre who provided bus transportation for the students.

The Justice Education Series is part of CatholicCare’s Geelong Settle Well Program, an intensive, school-based support service for young refugees and asylum seekers. Geelong Settle Well is proudly supported by Bennelong Foundation, Collier Charitable Fund, Give Where You Live Foundation, and Melbourne Catholic Archbishop's Charitable Fund.

20 September 2019
Category: News