Remote Justices of the Peace (Magistrates Court) Program

The Remote Justices of the Peace (Magistrates Court) Program allows Justices of the Peace to constitute a Magistrates Court in the absence of a magistrate in discrete Queensland communities.

The Remote Justices of the Peace program began as part of the Queensland Government’s response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody 1991.

Since beginning in 1993, more than 200 JPs—most of whom are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander persons—have been trained and sworn in as part of this program.

The program helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in remote, discrete communities overcome disadvantages they may face when dealing with the criminal justice system as the victim of a criminal act, as an accused person or in another role.

Remote JP courts improve access to the criminal justice system for these remote communities, and empower and enable Indigenous community members, Elders and Respected Persons to play positive roles in the criminal justice system.

How the program works

Under the program, remote JPs can hear and determine charges for simple or regulatory offences, or indictable offences that can be dealt with summarily, where a defendant enters a guilty plea.

They can also determine domestic and family violence protection orders and bail applications.

Remote JPs commonly hear:

  • offences against local laws (previously by-laws)
  • summary offences (including all minor liquor offences, public nuisance, contravening  direction of police officer, etc.)
  • adjournment requests.

Training for participants

Participants who meet the requirements to become a JP in Queensland and live in a discrete community are eligible to undertake training to get qualifications as a Justice of the Peace and hold the accreditation of a JP (Magistrates Court).

Participants in the program are trained in consultation with court stakeholders, including local community councils, community justice groups, Queensland Corrective Services and the Queensland Police Service.

Queensland Courts provides training and ongoing support, including annual refresher training sessions.

Read more about how to become a JP on the Queensland Government’s website.

Where the program operates

Currently, remote JP courts are active in Cherbourg, Kowanyama, Lockhart River, Mornington Island, Aurukun, Bamaga and Pormpuraaw.

Get involved

Contact us if you:

  • live in a remote discrete community and want to become part of the program
  • are interested in becoming a Remote JP (Magistrate Court)
  • just want to learn more.