Kathryn is in her fourth year of a Bachelor of Justice/Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology) at Queensland University of Technology. In what is our longest Justice Journey, she spent a week with Victim Assist Queensland at the Ipswich Courthouse.
Monday started bright and early at 8am on the steps of the Ipswich Courthouse. I had no idea what I was walking into, but can now honestly say it was an awesome experience.
I was met by Toni Russo, the Ipswich Victim Coordination Officer with Victim Assist Queensland. Toni is lovely and I was made to feel extremely welcome. Victim Assist Queensland provides assistance to people who have been injured by an act of violence. If a client is eligible, they may be able to receive financial assistance to help them recover from injuries sustained in the act of violence.
We began with a tour of the courthouse. I had never been inside a courthouse before, let alone in a trial room, so this was a new experience for me. All of the staff I met were extremely friendly and welcoming, and I could tell that they all had a genuine passion for the job. This made for a warm and inviting, yet professional workplace.
I was then given an overview of Toni’s job. Listening to her speak about her role it’s evident that she loves her career and is committed to providing the best support she can for her clients. I then sat in on a jury empanelment and the beginning of a trial. This was extremely interesting and seeing the formalities of the court proceedings was a great experience. I then began work helping Toni prepare for a meeting - the first ever Toowoomba Court Stakeholder Meeting. This meeting aims to bring together local services in the Toowoomba Court with a focus on supporting victims of crime. This meeting is pioneered and led by Toni and Victim Assist Queensland.
Tuesday again started bright and early. I met Toni in Brisbane for the QPILCH Legal Walk . The QPILCH Legal Walk is one of the largest Law Week annual events and raises money for QPILCH. The walk began at 7am and is 5km. I got to meet a few of the Victim Assist Queensland employees from the Brisbane office who also share a love and passion for their job like Toni.
In the afternoon, I sat in on the preparation of a Victim Impact Statement for a sentencing matter. This was extremely eye-opening and it was amazing to see the support and work that goes into supporting victims through court proceedings as this is rarely shown in the media.
On Wednesday, Toni and I attended a Homeless Connect Event at Eagle Farm Racecourse. This event brought together local services in an effort to help the homeless community around Brisbane.
Organisations that attended ranged from hairdressers, medical practitioners, legal services, justice services, social workers and a variety of others. I was encouraged by Toni to network and familiarise myself with the services. This event was amazing and I intend to volunteer for Homeless Connect in the future.
On Thursday, I sat in on the trial which began on Monday. It was interesting to see the progression in the case and the evidence surrounding the charges. After the trial I continued preparations for the Toowoomba Court Stakeholder Meeting. This included preparing the email invitation and agenda, and updating the case management system. Toni was also preparing for another stakeholder meeting in Ipswich the following week, so there was a lot to do!
Friday was my last day and I was sad thinking about leaving Toni and the Victim Assist Queensland Office in Ipswich. We began our day with a coffee and debrief about what the day could hold. Toni told me that she always leaves her Friday’s open because something always comes up needing her attention - this certainly was the case. We phoned Shelley, Toni’s supervisor with Victim Assist Queensland to discuss the meeting agenda and delivery for the Toowoomba Court Stakeholder Meeting. It was great to see the way Shelley and Toni worked so well together and shared the enthusiasm to make the meeting a success.
After this, we met with a walk-in client which was totally unexpected, but Toni has a knack for making a person feel welcome. We went through an application for financial assistance from Victim Assist Queensland with the client. The afternoon began with lunch with Toni, Rachel, a Victim Liaison Officer from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and myself. This was really enjoyable and it’s interesting to find out how people got to where they are today. More stakeholder meeting preparation was done and the afternoon was completed with a farewell afternoon tea.
This justice journey has been the best experience and cemented my passion for a career in justice. I intend to work towards a career within this field. I couldn’t have imagined a better person to job shadow with than Toni. She is passionate, friendly and always took the time to explain what she was doing or saying to make sure I fully understood what was going on. In all, my time with Victim Assist Queensland has been amazing and I wish I could do it all over again!