Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) auspices Just Reinvest NSW, a not-for-profit organisation established to advocate and implement justice reinvestment in NSW towns and communities to reduce incarceration rates for young Aboriginal people.
Just Reinvest NSW is chaired by ALS Managing Solicitor Sarah Hopkins.
The first major justice reinvestment project in Australia is happening in Bourke, a small town in north-west NSW.
Since 2013, Just Reinvest NSW has been working in partnership with Maranguka to develop a justice reinvestment framework for Bourke.
The first stage of the justice reinvestment project has focused on building trust between community and service providers, identifying community priorities and circuit breakers, and data collection.
Regular meetings have been held with Bourke community members and visiting and/or local representatives from most government departments. Government attendance and ongoing commitment towards exploring alternative means of service delivery during this time has gone a long way towards building a better relationship between community members and the government. It is looking more and more like a partnership.
The local community has spent a lot of time thinking about how to reduce offending and make the community safer. They have identified and the government is now implementing a number of cross-sector initiatives or ‘circuit breakers’ to achieve this, including three justice circuit breakers addressing breaches of bail, outstanding warrants and the need for a learner driver program in Bourke.
Data has been collected to tell a very big story about a young person’s passage through the criminal justice system in Bourke and how the community is fairing in terms of offending, diversion, bail, sentencing and punishment, and re-offending rates. Data has also been collected on the community’s outcomes in early life, education, employment, housing, healthcare, child safety, and health outcomes including mental health and drugs and alcohol. The data collected has been fed back to community members through community conversations held by local facilitators, and community feedback recorded has been fed back into the Just Reinvest NSW / Maranguka team.
A case as to why justice reinvestment should be implemented in Bourke to get better outcomes for their children and young people will be presented to the NSW government.