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NSW Budget a missed opportunity to fund key proposals to reduce Aboriginal over-imprisonment 

18 November 2020

Just Reinvest NSW has expressed disappointment that proposals to fund Aboriginal community-led justice reinvestment initiatives and the Walama Court were not taken up in the NSW Budget.

“COVID-19 has shown the strength of Aboriginal communities in responding to crisis, as well as the importance of governments getting behind community-led initiatives to build resilience, so it’s disappointing that the NSW Government has missed this opportunity,” Just Reinvest NSW Co-chair Professor Jack Beetson said.

“Despite broad support and numerous report recommendations calling on the NSW Government to invest in community-led justice reinvestment following the progress of Maranguka in Bourke, the NSW Government is yet to commit funding for other communities to lead a similar process.

“Through Maranguka, the Bourke Aboriginal community is showing what’s possible when governments, public services, philanthropists and civil society support a community-led agenda.

“Communities in Moree and Mount Druitt are ready to explore the possibilities of community-led justice reinvestment and take the lead on driving down imprisonment rates,” Professor Beetson said.

Just Reinvest NSW Co-chair Sarah Hopkins said: “Funding for residential rehabilitation in Dubbo is a welcome commitment in the Budget, but sadly the Government has missed the opportunity to act on other recommendations of the recent Inquiry into the Drug Ice.”

“Aboriginal community leadership to drive change and identify solutions is fundamental, and this Budget could have supported communities to address the underlying issues driving offending, and keep young people, women and men away from the criminal justice system.

“If the NSW Government wants to meet the targets in the new National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap over the next 10 years, community-led change through justice reinvestment must be part of the NSW Government’s plan.

“Increased investment in police, as we’ve seen yet again in this Budget won’t deliver the outcomes that the NSW Government want to achieve. If the Government is serious about reducing reoffending and reducing imprisonment rates for Aboriginal people, we need to see increased investment into communities.” Sarah Hopkins said.

Professor Jack Beetson is a Ngemba man, Co-Chair of Just Reinvest NSW and Executive Director of the Literacy for Life Foundation.

Sarah Hopkins is Co-Chair of Just Reinvest NSW and the Managing Solicitor of Justice Projects at the Aboriginal Legal Service ACT/NSW.

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