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Community-led change

The Community-Led Change team helps JR NSW create change for indigenous communities making them safer and more just by transferring power and resources towards community led solutions. This team leads the way justice reinvestment (JR) develops and expands in New South Wales, and delivers JR NSW’s strategic goals in existing communities, such as Mt Druitt and Moree, but also pioneers our emergence in new sites.

Backbone teams

Aboriginal backbone teams coordinate the JR community-led change process, working alongside and guided by an Aboriginal leadership group in the community. These two complementary teams are crucial for setting the right conditions for change. They jointly identify solutions to overincarceration or recidivism in their community, using a strengths-based approach where ownership and self-determination are key success measures.

These two teams can facilitate collective decision making about resource allocation or around setting community goals and outcomes. The aim is to create a whole-of-community movement around justice reinvestment. A diverse group of community members can participate in community-led change, including young people with lived experience of the criminal justice system.

Other activities of the backbone team and leadership groups include supporting community to access bureaucratic data, building partnerships between community and government and improving accountability of service providers.

These backbone and leadership teams need to be sufficiently resourced as the essential infrastructure of community-led JR, working on delivering outcomes that are not a focus of, or cannot be achieved by government.

Through community-led JR, Aboriginal communities are innovating new approaches in which there are trials, errors, successes, and learnings. The community-led change process is a long-term prospect that must be sustained if it is to be successful.

Community partnerships

Community Partnerships is an essential function of JR NSW that prioritises engagement with Aboriginal communities across New South Wales. These partnerships ensure opportunities to explore whether a JR approach is right for them, and if so, to assist the community in developing local JR leadership and processes. This involves building an understanding of JR in the community, supporting local capability and leadership development, and supporting collaboration and data-driven decision-making in potential JR sites.

Youth engagement

Just Reinvest NSW aims to elevate the voices of Aboriginal young people and support them to advocate for systems change in their own communities and on a state level. By building relationships with young people, especially young people who have been harmed by multiple systems, and providing them with support, resources, skills and opportunities to participate in decision-making, JR NSW builds a platform for young leaders in communities who are engaging in justice reinvestment initiatives. Their activities can be witnessed on the community pages of this website, including Mounty Yarns in Mt Druitt and the Youth Forum in Moree.

Youth ambassadors

The number of young people connecting with JR is increasing. It’s exciting to see when young people attend an event, join a footy team, put their hand up for volunteer work through to being engaged as a Youth Ambassador. Our Youth Ambassadors are in the unique position of being trusted and closely connected to the young people across their community. Through this connection, they help provide input to decide what programs and support will address the issues raised and meet the needs of the young people and their families.

In the words of our Youth Team….

The Justice Reinvestment model supports us to challenge systems that continue to cause harm to our young people. Our young people are our fight and together we advocate and seek change for our future generations.

Jess Brown, Youth Engagement Lead, Mt Druitt
Jess Brown, Youth Engagement Lead, Mt Druitt JR (left), with Terleaha Williams, Youth Ambassador (right), at the Mounty Yarns Listen to Change Event. Photo credit: Tama Doule-Mellallieu
Mekayla Cochrane, Youth Engagement Lead, Moree – JR NSW (right) with two young people at a Youth Camp designed to foster culutral connection and family cohesion for at-risk youth and families doing it tough.

I like working with young people and amplifying their voices. Justice Reinvestment allows me to do this and create spaces for them to be heard, as they have the solutions to the problems, and the outcomes that work best.

Mekayla Cochrane, Youth Engagement Lead, Moree

Our youth ambassadors


  • Kobie Duncan
  • Trei Stewart
  • Beau Foster
  • Mi-kaisha Masella
  • Nahdia Noter
  • Elijah Smith
  • Craig McKellar-Doole
  • Terleaha Williams
  • Dillion Saunders-Carr
  • Alana Hammond


  • Tia Duke
  • Amelia Towney
  • Brenda Towney
  • Sebastian McGarry
  • Dekquitah Taylor
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