Multi-disciplinary training for specialist courts – breaking down silos and building capacity

Ms Elanor Peattie1

1Judicial College Of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

As the justice system moves towards providing more integrated and collaborative responses, there is an increasing need for multi-disciplinary training, particularly for teams working in specialist courts. Since March 2017, the Judicial College of Victoria has been delivering this training for the Victorian Drug Court and more recently for the Specialist Family Violence Courts, Family Drug Treatment Court and the Children’s Court Criminal Division.

The training draws on three key principles:

  1. Specialist courts involve a departure from the traditional adversarial model and require courts and surrounding agencies to work collaboratively and consider a holistic perspective to achieve better outcomes;
  2. Working together in this way requires the development of a common knowledge base and a shared set of values and goals amongst the multi-disciplinary team;
  3. These can only be formed where members of the team understand each other’s respective roles and responsibilities and how to navigate the pressures that can impede cooperative relationships.

Multi-disciplinary training provides a unique opportunity for agencies to engage in shared learning and discuss challenges and opportunities for innovation and reform. It’s recognised as one of the ten key components of the drug court model and is increasingly being cited as important in other specialist areas including family violence and youth justice.

Feedback from participants who have attended this training indicates that they highly value the multi-disciplinary learning experience and that it has manifested in positive outcomes for courts and the experience of those coming before them.


Elanor Peattie manages the Judicial College of Victoria’s multi-disciplinary team education programs in the areas of Family Violence, Drug Courts and Youth Justice. She is an experienced criminal lawyer who has practised extensively in specialist and solution-focused courts.

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