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Justice reinvestment champions discuss new policy approach

Advocates for the justice reinvestment campaign for Aboriginal young people had a landmark meeting with members of the New South Wales (NSW) Government to discuss the over-representation of Indigenous youth in correctional facilities, reports NACCHO Communique.

The Justice reinvestment ‘campaign champions’ – comprising Mick Gooda, Tom Calma, and Marcia Ella-Duncan – met with the NSW Attorney-General, Greg Smith, and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Victor Dominello, on 17 October 2012.

The campaigners presented the Attorney-General and Minister with a revolutionary new policy approach to reducing Indigenous incarceration, based on the campaign’s mission statement. This approach involves diverting funds away from prison into programs to address the causes of crime in communities.

The campaign champions asked the NSW Government to commit to an agreed number of metropolitan and regional communities where justice reinvestment could be trialled and evaluated.

Mick Gooda stated: ‘When implemented, justice reinvestment programs benefit entire communities, not just Aboriginal young people. What is required is a whole of government approach that ensures justice and human service agencies work toward that same goal.

‘This can be accomplished by adopting a policy of Justice Reinvestment,’ says Mr Gooda.

Sarah Hopkins, an initiator of the Justice reinvestment campaign and a senior solicitor with Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT), also met with the Ministers. She says it has been difficult as a lawyer to watch adults and then their children facing the same problems and ending up in prison.

‘It sets them up for a life inside and does nothing to break the cycle. Why do we need justice reinvestment in NSW? If this over-representation is not addressed, NSW will lose an entire generation of Aboriginal Australians.’

The NSW Justice reinvestment campaign for Aboriginal young people was launched in May 2012, and is run by the Justice Reinvestment for Aboriginal Young People Working Group. The campaign’s mission is to shift funding invested in prisons back into communities by implementing justice reinvestment programs in NSW.

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