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Just Reinvest NSW Moree Submission to the NSW Parliamentary inquiry into community safety in regional and rural communities

Today the JR Moree backbone team’s submission to the Parliament of New South Wales’ inquiry into community safety in regional and rural communities was published.

Just Reinvest NSW urges the Committee on Law and Safety to pursue the holistic, effective, and adequate use of resources to prevent crime and ensure community safety. Breakdowns in community safety should be understood as a symptom of more “upstream” challenges, while interventions on behalf of the police and the criminal justice system are necessarily too late – the harm has already occurred.

Crime prevention policy must centre the effective delivery of basic human services like education, health, and housing, and on the use of wraparound and diversionary services where breakdowns occur – before seeking to increase resourcing for and use of police and the criminal justice system. Furthermore, JR NSW has identifed signifcant gaps in these services in rural and regional settings. These gaps must be addressed.

We recommend that the NSW Parliament:

• Pursue community-led and place-based solutions to improve community safety, with a particular emphasis on listening to Aboriginal community leaders and centring Aboriginal voices.

• Develop transparent mechanisms whereby communities can track the allocation of resources and hold government accountable for effective service delivery.

• Divest resources directly into the control of local communities whenever possible, especially Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs), and invest in the capacity of community organisations to directly support children and families.

• Ensure that government service professionals have adequate cultural training for working in and with Aboriginal communities, so that Aboriginal people are supported and safe in their interactions with service providers.

• Prioritise immediate solutions to the housing crisis, on a community-led basis.

• Prioritise the recruitment and retention of skilled social workers, health professionals and other community-based professionals who can leverage supportive resources instead of punitive responses.

• Develop and deliver an evidence-based strategy for urgently reversing the rising trend of family and domestic violence.

• Ensure adequate, efective, and locally accessible support is available to people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.

• Raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14, without exception.

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