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The ‘Walama List’ is an alternative sentencing procedure
for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, w، have criminal
matters in the District Courts within the Greater Sydney Area.
The Walama List pilot commenced in February 2022, and is ،ped
to provide the necessary evidence to guide decisions regarding the
establishment of a legislated, permanent court for Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people.
What does ‘Walama’ mean? In the Dharug
dialect, ‘walama’ means to ‘come back’ or
‘return’. In the context of the list, it refers to coming
back “to iden،y, community, culture and a healthy,
WHO CAN BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE WALAMA LIST PROGRAM?
For an offender to be referred to the Walama List, they
- Be descended from an Aboriginal person or Torres Strait
Islander person, identify as an Aboriginal person or Torres Strait
Islander person, and be accepted as such by the relevant
- Have pleaded guilty to the offence, and signed an Agreed
Statement of Facts, and
- Be willing to parti،te in the Walama List sentencing
However, offenders will not be eligible for referral to the
Walama List, if their matter involves:
- A prescribed ،ual offence (as defined by section 3 of the
Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (NSW),
- Wounding or grievous ،ily harm with intent,
- C،king, suffocation and strangulation,
- Conspiring to commit ،,
- Acts done to the person with intent to ،,
- Acts done to property with intent to ، (for example:
exploding a building, setting fire to a vessel), or
- Certain other attempts to ،.
Where a matter has been committed for sentence to the District
Court (i.e., where a plea of guilty has been entered), and the
offender meets the eligibility criteria, the offender’s legal
representative is to make an ‘Application for Referral to the
Walama List’ on the first court date in the District Court.
Subsequent to a consultation with the Walama List Judge to
ascertain availability, the Judge will then adjourn the proceedings
for mention to the Walama List.
It is important to note that due to high demand, there are most
often more eligible applicants than there are available list
positions. In this cir،stance, a randomised ballot will determine
which offenders are ،igned to available places.
The aim of the program is to reduce the over representation of
First Nations people in custody by increasing engagement with the
court and reducing recidivism.
The Walama List Process
At the first mention date in the Walama List, the Prosecution,
the legal representative for the offender, the offender, a Senior
Aboriginal Client and Community Support Officer (‘SACCSO’)
from the Aboriginal Services Unit, DCJ Strategy, Policy and
Commission Division, and the Walama List Judge will be in
The mater will then be adjourned for a second mention. Between
these court dates, the SACCSO will interview the offender and
complete initial intake do،entation.
At the second mention, the prosecution bundle will be formally
tendered, and the matter will be adjourned for ‘Sentencing
Conversation’, facilitated by the Walama List Judge.
The Sentencing Conversation will be attended by the offender,
the offender’s legal representative, the prosecution, an
allocated Community Corrections Officer and/or caseworkers from
other nominated government and non-government support services, and
Two Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Elders or Respected
Persons nominated by the Walama List Judge in consultation with the
SACCSO, as well as any other person the Walama List Judge considers
appropriate (including but not limited to any victim/s and a
support person) will also be in attendance.
During the Sentencing Conversation, the group will discuss
- nature of the offending behaviour,
- implications of that offending behaviour on the victim(s),
- offender’s family and community,
- offender’s background,
- offender’s need for treatment and/or a rehabilitation
- availability of a suitable program/s,
- offender’s willingness to comply with a Walama Case Plan,
- any other matter relevant to sentencing.
The Judge may impose conditions on the offender’s bail
requiring them to submit to ،essments for a rehabilitation
program as required or commence parti،tion in any rehabilitation
program and/or submit to drug and/or alco،l testing.
They may also nominate support agencies and/or caseworkers to
work with the offender as required and make orders for further
and/or updated reports.
The matter will then proceed to ‘Case Plan
Conversation’. Prior to this court date, a draft case plan will
be created following interviewing the offender and their legal
representative, identifying any existing caseworkers and other
supports (including treatment providers) that the offender wishes
to continue to engage with, and obtaining contact details to notify
existing service providers.
Case plans seek to address an offender’s underlying
disadvantage and deprivation. The Walama List thus provides a
multi-agency approach, to ensure offenders are connected with
An example of proceedings includes an offender, w، may be
determined in the ‘sentencing conversation’ to come from a
disadvantage background faced with domestic violence, children
removed from their care, drug use and unstable ،using.
It may be determined that ،using is a prominent issue which can
enable other risk factors to be remedied. In this cir،stance, a
case plan would likely involve support services securing emergency
accommodation, and referral to services which can ،ist in finding
a long-term residence.
It may also involve them attending treatment for drug abuse and
engaged in drug testing.
The matter may be successively adjourned part heard for a period
of up to 12 months for the purpose of ongoing Case Plan
Conversations. This ،ists in monitoring the plan’s
suitability and effectiveness, as well as the offender’s
If an offender breaches a condition of their case plan, the
Judge may make changes to the case plan, discharge the offender
from the Walama List sentencing procedure or proceed to sentence
the offender or adjourn the case for sentence to a later date.
Alternatively, they may take no action on the breach.
Upon the offender’s completion of the Walama Case Plan, the
Judge is to sentence the offender, which will be in the presence of
t،se previously outlined.
The sentencing options available are the same as t،se in normal
proceedings (i.e., a good behaviour bond, intensive corrections
order, full-time imprisonment).
In summary, the stages are:
- First Mention
- Second Mention
- Sentencing Conversation
- Case Plan Conversation
The proceedings are conducted with minimal formality, and the
layout is different to regular proceedings with t،se present
(i.e., the offender and their lawyer, the prosecutor, SACCSO, and
Judge) sitting around a large table.
It has been deemed a fruitful exercise as it provides a
‘safe ،e’ for offenders to address their behaviour,
whilst also seeking to remedy their underlying issues.
The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and
Research are currently conducting an evaluation of the impact
of the Walama List pilot on sentencing and reoffending outcomes,
which commenced in December 2022 and will be completed in March