About the Department of Justice

The Department of Justice supports the community, Western Australian Government, judiciary and Parliament through the provision of access to high quality justice, legal and corrective services, information and products.

The Department has a diverse range of services, which have the potential to affect all Western Australians. These include:

  • Justice Services - court and tribunal services, corrective services, offender management and community safety and victim support
  • Services to the Community - advocacy, guardianship and administration services, trustee services, and birth, death and marriage services
  • Services to Government - policy advice, legal advice and representation and legislative drafting and related services.

Significant issues impacting the Department

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Reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal people

The Department of Justice remains steadfast in its support for the Government’s priority to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal people within, or at risk of, entering the justice system.

Currently, Western Australia has one of the highest rates of Aboriginal people in prison nationally with 3717 incarcerations per 100,000 population, around 60 per cent above the national average. The over-representation of Aboriginal people in custody has a significant impact on the cultural, emotional and social wellbeing of those individuals, their families and Western Australian communities.

As part of the McGowan Government’s Our Priorities, the Department of Justice has a lead role in addressing Aboriginal Wellbeing by reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal persons in custody. The Department of Justice is currently working with WA Police, the Department of Transport and with other public sector agencies to bring about positive change. First, by developing specific projects to address instances where Aboriginal persons are in custody due to driver’s licence offences or unpaid fines. This includes reforming the Fines, Penalties and Infringement Notices Enforcement Act 1994 (WA) so that imprisonment is a last resort and there is more flexibility in the imposition and fulfilment of work and development orders.

Second, the Department of Justice is part of the Justice Planning and Reform Committee, a cross-agency steering committee chaired by the Department of Premier and Cabinet. This committee has initiated and supported the development of a number of projects to better manage the forecast increase in the WA prison population. These strategies were funded by Government in the 2019/20 budget and are currently being implemented by Justice. They include reducing avoidable remand, increasing sentencing flexibility for the courts and access to rehabilitative services for offenders, and strengthening post-release supervision, particularly by expanding the use of electronic monitoring, where safe and appropriate to do so.

Reducing youth offending

The Department of Justice is collaborating with other agencies and working in partnership with Aboriginal communities to improve the outcomes for young people, and particularly Aboriginal people, who are in danger of, or already have, come into contact with the criminal justice system.

The Department of Justice is supporting the Government’s Our Priority on building a Safer Community, to reduce the number of young offenders returning to detention by helping them to successfully turn their lives around. Youth Justice Services is collaborating with a range of agencies to work with young people at Banksia Hill Detention Centre and in the community to reduce reoffending through programs and services designed to encourage better life choices and to divert them from the criminal justice system.

Work was begun on the development of a Kimberley Juvenile Justice Strategy, which is based on a partnership between Government agencies, the non-government sector and Aboriginal community-controlled organisations in the Kimberley region. The Strategy will contain a range of short, medium and long-term programs designed to assist with the prevention of youth crime and re-offending. The intent is to provide genuine opportunities for community engagement and co-design opportunities in creating a better response to youth offending.

Reducing illicit drug use

Also as part of the Government’s Our Priority on building a Safer Community, the Department of Justice is collaborating across government to reduce the use of illicit drugs by 15 per cent by 2022 to deliver safer communities across Western Australia. The current rate of illicit drug use in Western Australia is alarming with methamphetamine use in Western Australia being 2.7 per cent which is almost double the national average.

To help achieve the Government’s target, the Department of Justice has developed a Managing Drugs and Alcohol in Prisons Strategy. The Strategy has four key goals, including supply control, demand reduction, harm reduction, and monitoring and innovation. The Department is also examining its legislative powers with regard to searching and drug testing in prison facilities to ensure it has the appropriate legal powers to effectively to stop the illegal supply of alcohol and drugs into custodial facilities.

The Government has a strong rehabilitative focus to illicit drug use. As part of its Methamphetamine Action Plan announced in March 2017, Corrective Services opened a re-purposed Wandoo Rehabilitation Prison at Murdoch in August 2018. This prison is now successfully operating as the State’s first female alcohol and other drugs rehabilitation prison. Wandoo, together with the development of a men’s Alcohol and other Drug unit currently being constructed as part of the Casuarina Prison expansion and due to open in 2020, will assist in breaking the cycle of alcohol and drug-related crime by providing high quality rehabilitation to prisoners.

Increased demand for services

Growth in the adult prisoner population continues to place increased pressure on the prison estate. As the prison population grows, the challenge of dealing with the specialised needs of particular groups (cohorts) of prisoners also increases. Consistent with national trends, there is an increasing population of ageing prisoners and prisoners with mental health and drug and alcohol issues.

In addition to optimising the existing prison estate, a range of new infrastructure projects are in progress at Casuarina, Bunbury, Broome and Hakea Prison to meet the expected medium-term bed demand and needed support infrastructure. Creating new infrastructure on existing prison sites has meant that the expansion has been achieved quickly and without having to build a costly new prison.

The Government is investing more than $300 million into prison infrastructure. The Department of Justice is undertaking construction of 1,228 new prison beds and recruiting 458 additional prison officers, which will significantly increase the capacity of the prison system and enable the Department of Justice to more safely and effectively manage a diverse and growing prison population.

Other areas of the Department of Justice are also experiencing demand pressures. For example, the Office of the Public Advocate continues to experience increasing demand for services to vulnerable adults with decision-making disabilities as a result of the ageing population and increasing numbers of people affected by an intellectual disability or mental illness who require a guardian. Similarly, the Public Trustee has also continued to experience increasing demand, with a particular increase in the number of people with little or no capacity to pay for services.

Law reform

The Department of Justice continues to deliver legislation to support the State Government’s significant legal reform agenda. The Department has focused on the needs of victims of crime as well as increasing community safety for Western Australia through the introduction of key legislation.

Legislation enacted in 2018/19 included the Historical Homosexual Convictions Expungement Act 2018, Sentence Administration Amendment (Multiple Murderers) Act 2018 and Criminal Law Amendment (Intimate Images) Act 2019.

Legislation currently in development for introduction in 2019/20 include the Fines Penalties & Infringement Notices Enforcement Amendment Bill 2019, Criminal Law (Mental Impairment) Bill 2019 and High Risk Offenders Bill 2019. The Strategic Reform division, Parliamentary Counsel and State Solicitor’s Office, Office of the Commissioner of Victims of Crime and Court and Tribunal Services have all been heavily involved in this work.

Addressing child sexual abuse

In line with the Government’s Law Reform Initiatives election commitment, the Department guided the development of the Civil Liability Legislation Amendment (Child Sexual Abuse Actions) Act 2018 to remove the statutory limitation period for civil litigation by victims of historical child sexual abuse in Western Australia.

As a result the State Solicitor's Office has developed resources to manage civil claims made against the State of WA in relation to historic child sexual abuse matters. SSO anticipates a significant increase in claims following the proclamation of the Civil Liability Legislation Amendment (Child Sexual Abuse Actions) Act 2018.

The Department of Justice has also led Western Australia’s participation in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which has had a profound impact on the Western Australian community. This Commonwealth scheme provides an avenue for survivors to seek compensation, which is an easier and more supportive avenue instead of civil litigation. The Department established a Redress Coordination unit which has liaised with government agencies to assist the Commonwealth Government in making determinations on applicants’ eligibility for redress.

Achievements at a glance

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achievements in picture form

Organisational structure

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The Department is the agency principally responsible for assisting the Attorney General and Minister for Corrective Services in developing and implementing policy and the administration and compliance with approximately 200 Acts.

The Department is divided into 10 divisions with 28 directorates who provide a broad range of services. View the Department of Justice's organisational structure. 
 

Strategic Framework

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The Strategic Framework articulates the Department of Justice’s aim to be recognised and valued as a leader in developing and delivering justice services.  

Mission

A fair, just and safe community for all Western Australians

Principles

  • High performing and professional
  • Ethical and accountable
  • Trained, safe and supported

Values

  • Respecting rights and diversity
  • Fostering service excellence
  • Being fair and reasonable

Key Result Areas

  • Responsive to Government
  • Improved data, analytical and evaluative capability
  • Targeted and strategic policy development and legislative reform
  • Improved service delivery and collaboration
  • Improved community safety and security
  • Sustainable strategies and outcomes

Annual reports

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Each year the Department of Justice’s annual report provides a summary of the key initiatives and activities of the department, including reports on performance, delivery of outputs and financial management.  

Justice Integrity Framework

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The Department of Justice is committed to creating a culture of integrity and minimising the risk of corruption and misconduct. The new Justice Integrity Framework  outlines how the Department will do this.

The Framework provides a guide for all Department of Justice employees to share in the collective responsibility to behave ethically and to promote and maintain a culture of integrity in the workplace.

The Justice Integrity Framework is the operational policy document for the Professional Standards Division which began operating in January 2019. The Professional Standards Division is responsible for administering the Framework by providing strategic coordination of ethical standards, integrity and assurance functions across the Department.

Aboriginal Services (including open days)

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Aboriginal Mediation Service

The Aboriginal Mediation Service’s (AMS) aim is to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to resolve conflicts before they escalate into violence or result in court action.

AMS conflict resolution services are:

  • Culturally appropriate
  • Voluntary
  • Confidential
  • Statewide
  • Free.

Types of conflicts that are suitable:

  • Family (not family law)
  • Burial
  • Community
  • Neighbour.

If you are one of the parties involved in a conflict or wanting to make a referral on behalf of a party or parties, contact AMS by phone or email for a confidential discussion with one of our staff.

You will be advised during your discussion with the AMS Case Officer if a referral is required. If so, a referral form will be forwarded to you for completion and returned to AMS.

If the matter is suitable for mediation, a Mediator will be allocated to facilitate the process.

If the matter is not suitable for mediation, alternative options will be discussed with the parties.

Confidentiality

It is important for all parties engaging with AMS to understand how their confidential information is protected.

Any contact that you have with AMS is confidential in nature.

AMS will not use any information obtained to your disadvantage.

Contact details

Aboriginal Mediation Service
Department of Justice
Level 23, David Malcolm Justice Centre
28 Barrack Street
PERTH WA 6000
Phone: (08) 9264 6176
Freecall: 1800 045 577
Email: aboriginalmediationservice@justice.wa.gov.au

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Open days

The Department holds open days to enable easy access for Aboriginal people who may need assistance with:

There are currently no scheduled open days planned.

Public Interest Disclosure

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Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003 (referred to as the PID Act), any person can make a public interest disclosure if they believe something is wrong with the way a public authority (Department of Justice), public officer (our employees) or (the Department’s) public sector contractor has acted, is acting, or may be going to act and which is of public interest.

This might involve:

  • Improper conduct
  • An offence under a written law (including corruption)
  • Substantial unauthorised or irregular use of, or substantial mismanagement of public resources; or
  • Conduct that involves a substantial and specific risk of injury, prejudice to public safety or harm to the environment.

A public interest disclosure must relate to a matter that falls within the sphere of responsibility of the Department of Justice.  It cannot relate to information that someone has, or is, engaging in criminal behaviour that is not connected to their employment or engagement with the Department.

The PID Act outlines important information about what may be disclosed, who it must be disclosed to (an authorised PID Officer), and also provides for the protection of people who make a public interest disclosure (PID), as well as those who may be subject of a PID.

For further information?

The Department strongly recommends you seek advice before making a PID by:

  • Referring to the Public Sector Commission website to read important information for people thinking of making a disclosure as well as details for their protections and obligations under the Act
  • Contacting our Principal PID Officer, the Assistant Director, Integrity and Accountability on telephone 1300 880 532 for a confidential discussion.

Lodging a Public Interest Disclosure

Whilst the PID Act does not require the completion of any particular form to make a disclosure, a person wishing to make a disclosure may choose to print off, complete and sign the Public Interest Disclosure Lodgement form and address and post it as below:

Strictly confidential

Principal PID Officer - Public Interest Disclosure
Department of Justice
Professional Standards Division
Locked Bag 22
CLOISTERS SQUARE WA 6850

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State Building Major Projects

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Armadale's new Courthouse and Police Complex

A new $86 million courthouse and police complex is planned for Armadale.

The selected site is bound by Third Road, South Western Highway and Thomas Street, just behind Armadale Shopping City.

Improved services and facilities

The courthouse will provide:

  • Modern and safe environment for delivery of court services.
  • State of the art video conferencing and digital recording facilities.
  • Five courtrooms and pre-trial conference room.
  • Separate and secure facilities for victims of crime.

The police complex will provide:

A contemporary environment for the delivery of police services to the Armadale police district.

  • Modern detainee interview and public interview rooms.
  • A modern custodial facility.
  • Dedicated specialist areas to support the law enforcement role.

Construction

The project is scheduled for completion in late 2021, with occupation anticipated within the first quarter of 2022. It will involve a brand new facility which will create an important civic landmark in the centre of Armadale.

There will be a shared custody area between the courthouse and police complex, improving security and efficiency of custodial services.

Consultation

The Armadale community will be consulted throughout the project.

A community reference group, consisting of residents, local interest groups, and business owners will represent the views of the community in the creation of the complex.

The community reference group will play a vital role in communicating the diverse views of the local community to the project team.

Announcements

Media release

Launch of Justice Integrity Framework

The Department of Justice has strengthened its commitment to professional standards and ethical conduct with the adoption of a formal integrity framework.
Page reviewed 3 June 2020
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