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An important first step and a missed opportunity to support community-led justice reinvestment

Just Reinvest NSW described funding provided through the NSW Government’s Community Safety Fund earlier this month as an important first step but expressed disappointment by the Government’s failure to provide further commitment to justice reinvestment in today’s Budget.

In their Pre-Budget Submission 2018-19, Just Reinvest NSW called on the NSW Government to provide funding for the establishment of an independent body and community-led trials, as recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) in their report Pathways to Justice–Inquiry into the Incarceration Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. However, no funding has been allocated in this year’s Budget.

A grant of almost $250,000 was provided earlier this month to Just Reinvest NSW to commence work with additional communities under the Department of Justice Community Safety Fund.

Just Reinvest NSW is an independent, non-profit organisation that partnered with the Bourke community to develop the Maranguka Justice Reinvestment Project, the most advanced place-based justice reinvestment initiative in Australia.

Just Reinvest NSW Chair Sarah Hopkins said: “Justice reinvestment is a fiscally sound model for addressing the over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Justice reinvestment projects make sense: they are community-led, place-based and data-driven. What’s needed now is start-up funding for additional community-led projects and an independent body to support those communities.

“The answer to the problem of too many people in 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 the local solutions that strengthen communities and keep people from offending in the first place.”

In line with the recommendations of the ALRC Just Reinvest NSW is calling on the NSW Government to

·       Allocate $5 million over 5 years to establish an independent justice reinvestment body (to commence in January 2019) to coordinate and support community-led justice reinvestment.

·       Invest $3.75 million over 5 years to support three new community-led justice reinvestment trials across NSW in partnership with philanthropic, corporate and not-for-profit partners.

Former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda said: “Justice reinvestment represents a shift away from governments and policy makers coming in and telling communities what is best for them. Through a justice reinvestment approach, the solutions come from and are implemented by the community.

“With Australia’s most advanced justice reinvestment project being in Bourke, the NSW government has the opportunity to take the lead, through the development of a state level justice reinvestment policy and independent body to support existing and future trials,” he said.

19 June 2018

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