David Pheeny works at the Aboriginal Legal Service in Bourke and says 60 per cent of his cases are related to domestic violence.
From the ABC: DAVID PHEENY: It is an issue, not only from a legal point of view, but from the community point of view too, I mean it affects the whole community and especially in a remote community like Bourke you find that you know, it has a ripple effect right across the community.
TAHMINA ANSARI (Reporter): The Justice Reinvestment Program created by members in the community hopes to tackle the high rate of domestic violence.
Alistair Ferguson is one of the men behind the initiative.
ALISTAIR FERGUSON: Look I guess going back particularly over the last 10 years, we’ve really grappled as a community, so I think if the initiative we have in place now is more effective because it’s from the ground up; it’s driven by the community. But I guess it’s you know, working in a partnership sort of environment now, taking a collaborative approach.
It really comes back down to empowering young people and equipping them with the information and the awareness that they are responsible and they do have a responsibility to ensure that they are contributing more effectively and being proactive in their community as well.
We’ve got a number of initiatives, one is that we’re establishing a family referral service which will certainly play a big role in coordinating services as well.
TAHMINA ANSARI: The crime manager at Bourke police, inspector Scott Parker, is optimistic about the program.
SCOTT PARKER: It is essentially the strong drive from the council, the clans and the family groups in Bourke trying to tackle a number of social, economic and political factors in the township positively to have one voice to tackle those issues.
Through justice reinvestment strategies, they’re aiming to reduce the incidents of not only criminality, but to provide some scope for diversion strategies – particularly for the young people of Bourke.
One of the serving police officers, a 30-year veteran of the Bourke police, who is essentially working offline with members of the Aboriginal legal service to not only drive those policies, but also to deploy into the community to continue these initiatives.