Talking Justice set to prompt discussion at Bendigo's Ulumbarra Theatre.

TOPICAL TALKS: ARC Justice executive officer Hayley Mansfield and Talking Justice program manager Nicole Smith. Picture: DARREN HOWE
TOPICAL TALKS: ARC Justice executive officer Hayley Mansfield and Talking Justice program manager Nicole Smith. Picture: DARREN HOWE

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SHOULD we treat children in the justice system the same as adults?

Does the legal system do enough to protect transgender children?

What are the challenges ahead for family law, and what are the solutions?

Some of the country’s brightest legal minds will be in Bendigo on Friday and Saturday seeking answers to these questions, and others. 

Speakers passionate about Indigenous justice, transgender rights, youth justice, family law, and the media will share their knowledge and experiences during Talking Justice.

The Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre initiative is intended to create a stimulating and respectful environment for central Victorians to gather to share and discuss social justice issues. 

ARC Justice executive officer Hayley Mansfield said the session topics were suggested by a reference group about a year ago.

They have proven timely in the wake of the federal budget, the Supreme Court’s ruling that children were held unlawfully in Barwon Prison, and the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. 

The event precedes National Reconciliation Week, and coincides with National Law Week.

Ms Mansfield said events like Talking Justice were important in promoting critical discussion about key issues.

“Without an understanding of different viewpoints and opinions, how can we truly engage in democracy and promote rights?” she said.

The event aims to engage audience members from all walks of life. 

Attendees will have opportunities to ask questions and join the conversation.

Bendigo Law Association president Tom Wolff said the program looked like it was “ripped from the headlines.”

As a family law practitioner, he was most interested to hear Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant’s keynote address.

“I think it’s a terrific opportunity to hear really frank observations from someone who knows the system inside and out about the challenges it faces,” he said.

Talking Justice takes place at the Ulumbarra Theatre.

It will be followed by a musical celebration of multiculturalism, Musical Journeys.

Tickets are available from the Capital Venues and Events website or by calling the box office on 5434 6100.

What’s on this year’s program

  • FRIDAY, 6.30pm – FAMILY LAW: An analysis of the challenges facing the family law system and proposed solutions. Features a keynote address by the Honourable Chief Justice Diana Bryant, of the Family Court.
  • SATURDAY, 9.30am – YOUTH JUSTICE: Responding to the Victorian Government’s handling of riots in youth detention centres, the discussion will explore whether or not to treat children in the justice system the same as adults.
  • SATURDAY, 11am – TRANSGENDER RIGHTS: Exploring the legal system’s ability to protect and support transgender children, including the appropriateness of Family Court processes.
  • SATURDAY, 1.45pm – MEDIA AND JUSTICE: Discussing social and non-traditional media’s impact on journalism, individual rights and social justice. 
  • SATURDAY, 3.30pm – INDIGENOUS JUSTICE: Exploring the potential of restorative justice programs to forge a link between traditional Indigenous values and the criminal justice system, improve community safety and lower incarceration rates.