4 February 2024

Coen triples number of qualified legal witnesses

| Chisa Hasegawa
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New JPs from Coen Regional Aboriginal Corporation

The Coen community is celebrating increased access to qualified Justices of the Peace after four locals were sworn in last month. Photo: Supplied (Coen Regional Aboriginal Corporation).

The community of Coen now has access to four new Justices of the Peace (JPs), bringing the total number of volunteers qualified to certify legal documents to six.

The new JPs, who are staff at Coen Regional Aboriginal Corporation (CRAC), underwent a week-long intensive training program to take on responsibilities such as signing documents that require a qualified witness, and hearing certain types of court matters.

At CRAC, community members can now receive more timely assistance with documents such as wills, affidavits, statutory declarations and identification.

New JP and CRAC staff member Leisha Murgha said there was a high demand for JPs in Coen.

“There’s a big need for it in community, especially for identification reasons,” she said.

“Everyone is part of all sorts of different families and CRAC is like a one-stop shop where they come to get that kind of thing sorted out.

“I think being responsible for looking over legal documents, it’s also important to have a variety of JPs.”

The four new JPs are still waiting for their stamps and numbers before starting their work, but Ms Murgha said she believed their addition would prove beneficial to the community, with the local JP ranks swelling to six.

“It’ll help us to be more accessible and quick in getting to the documents,” she said.

“If one’s not available, there will be another one there.

“Especially because one [experienced JP] is retired, and kind of likes to be left alone.”

The staff completed modules and criminal history checks in order to be sworn in.

“It was a bit difficult and pretty full on,” Ms Murgha said.

“We had a representative come up to train us on the ground from 8:30am to 4:30pm every day for a week, so there were definitely some long days.”

She said she was excited to continue serving and supporting the Coen community alongside her co-workers with their new qualifications.

“I’m proud of myself,” she said.

“It’s an accomplishment for me to have completed something that is also handy for the members of my community.”

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