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ALP COMMITMENT TO JUSTICE REINVESTMENT A WELCOME RESPONSE TO THE ISSUE OF INDIGENOUS OVER-INCARCERATION

MEDIA RELEASE 26 APRIL 2019

The Australian Labor Party’s commitment to support justice reinvestment has been welcomed by Just Reinvest NSW, an independent organisation that partnered with the Bourke community to develop Maranguka Justice Reinvestment, the most advanced community-led justice reinvestment initiative in Australia.

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Senator Patrick Dodson announced today that a Labor Government will invest $21.75 million over four years into progressing justice reinvestment. This will involve a commitment to:
– the justice reinvestment project currently underway in Bourke in New South Wales, and
– introduce trial sites in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory, and
– support and resource a national framework for justice reinvestment and establish a national coordinating body through COAG.

This commitment comes following recommendations by the Australian Law Reform Commission in their Pathways to Justice report tabled in March 2018 that Commonwealth, state and territory governments should:
– ‘provide support for the establishment of an independent justice reinvestment body’ and
– ‘support justice reinvestment trials initiated in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities’.

The Federal Government has not delivered a response to the report.

“The ALP’s commitment to provide funding for three new justice reinvestment sites and a supporting body is a welcome first step. However support and co-investment from states and territories will be critical. More than 20 communities in NSW alone have approached us with an interest in working in this way,” says Sarah Hopkins, Chair of Just Reinvest NSW.

Justice reinvestment is an innovative approach to resourcing and supporting communities leading the solutions to the challenges they face, and Maranguka Justice Reinvestment in Bourke shows the potential benefits to the community, the government and the economy.

A report by KPMG on the impact of Maranguka Justice Reinvestment released in November 2018 highlighted improvements in family strength, youth development and adult empowerment and identified savings of $3.1 million to government in just one year.

Quotes attributable to Sarah Hopkins, Chair of Just Reinvest NSW:
“This announcement indicates a strong commitment to tackling the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children. The answer to the problem of too many people coming into contact with the justice system won’t be found inside the justice system. We solve this by getting in front of the problem, focusing on local solutions that
strengthen communities and keep people from offending in the first place.”
“A small upfront investment has led to positive results downstream in Bourke. Governments should be getting behind justice reinvestment initiatives in other communities. We need to be building stronger communities, not prisons.”

Quotes attributable to Alistair Ferguson, Founder & Executive Director Maranguka, First Major Justice Reinvestment Project in Australia
“Through Maranguka Justice Reinvestment, the community is driving change and is involved in the decision-making unlike ever before.”
“Maranguka is providing the platform to make decisions about what we need in our community. Every day here in Bourke we are seeing the benefits for our community, and in particular our young people.”

Quotes attributable to Mick Gooda, former Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and former Commissioner of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory
“Justice reinvestment is common sense. When communities lead the change they want to see, and when services genuinely collaborate to generate that change, we see results.”
“The driver of the results in Bourke is the community coming together, taking control, engaging with the disengaged and using data to drive their initiatives.”

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