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Justice Reinvestment

What is Justice Reinvestment?

Aboriginal people are over-represented in our prison system, but there is a solution. A smarter approach that will create safer, stronger communities.

Justice Reinvestment is about investing in communities, not prisons.  By creating effective diversionary and treatment programs, Justice Reinvestment addresses the underlying causes of crime and stopping crime from occurring in the first place.

Crucially, justice reinvestment represents a shift away from governments coming in and telling Aboriginal communities what is best, which we know does not work, and moving towards what we know does work: local solutions coming from and being implemented by communities.


Who are Just Reinvest NSW?

Just Reinvest NSW are an independent, non-profit organisation auspiced by the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited.

Just Reinvest NSW was formed by a coalition of more than twenty organisations in 2012, focused on addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in custody through a justice reinvestment approach.

Aboriginal young people are leaders and ambassadors of Just Reinvest NSW.


The goals

●  Support community-led solutions to break the cycle of offending and build vibrant futures for children and young people.

●  Implement state-level reforms to reduce the prison population and shift spending away from building prisons to building safer, stronger communities


The impact

In 2013, Just Reinvest NSW began a partnership with the Bourke Aboriginal community to implement Maranguka Justice Reinvestment. This was the first major justice reinvestment trial in Australia. Just Reinvest NSW has supported Maranguka for six years. 

Maranguka has acted as a lighthouse to other Aboriginal communities. Over 20 communities have approached Maranguka and Just Reinvest NSW over the last five years and are eager to work in a similar way to Maranguka Justice Reinvestment. The communities that Just Renvest NSW have started working with closely include Moree, Mt Druitt and Armidale. Each demonstrating a strong commitment to a community led justice reinvestment approach.

Communities all over Australia, and also globally, look to Maranguka Justice Reinvestment and Just Reinvest NSW for advice and guidance around Justice Reinvestment.  

For more information contact: [email protected]

Maranguka Justice Reinvestment

What is Maranguka?

Maranguka is a model of Indigenous self-governance guided by the Bourke Tribal Council. Maranguka partnered with Just Reinvest NSW in 2013 to develop a ‘proof of concept’ for justice reinvestment in Bourke. By addressing the underlying causes of crime, savings on criminal justice costs are reinvested in strategies that strengthen communities and prevent crime.

The first stage of Maranguka Justice Reinvestment focused on building trust between community and service providers, data collection, identifying community priorities and ‘circuit breakers’. During the next phase, a shared vision, goals and measurement system were developed as part of the community’s strategy: Growing our Kids Up Safe, Smart and Strong.

Maranguka Working Groups

Maranguka uses quarterly working groups to bring community, government and service providers together to deliver the community-developed and community-led strategy - changing the way government, NGOs and community members service and support the community. A Cross Sector Executive meets quarterly to authorise and facilitate the work on the ground in Bourke.

Maranguka and the working groups have undertaken a range of activities designed to create change within the community and the justice system. Those activities have included: Aboriginal leaders inspiring a grassroots movement for change amongst local community members, facilitating collaboration and alignment across the service system, delivering new community based programs and service hubs, and partnering with justice agencies such as the police, to evolve their procedures, behaviour and operations towards a proactive and reinvestment model of justice.

The development and the implementation of Growing our Kids Up Safe, Smart and Strong Strategy underpins the framework of the community-led and place-based initiative.

There is an undeniable elevated sense of positivity in Bourke. People in Bourke feel empowered. There is a real sense of pride, and agency. Maranguka has brought community members including young people to the table and put them in the driver’s seat. Maranguka is supporting open and inclusive dialogue, which is the basis of community-led change. The Bourke community are owning the solutions, and with that, there is optimism that more things are possible. This renewed hope brings aspirations to maintain this hope, and to do better, and then better again. Bourke is on a path.
Alistair Ferguson, Founder and Executive Director Maranguka

More Driver Licences Less Driving Offences

The Maranguka Driving Licensing Initiative resulted in 310 people obtaining their Learners and Provisional licences in Bourke between December 2015 and January 2019 – which to date has led directly to employment for 10 people and contributed to a decrease in driving offences including driving without a licence, drink driving, speeding and the associated fines.

●  35% reduction in the number of people and 38% reduction in number of young people (up to 25 years) proceeded against for driving offences from 2015 to 2017[1]
●  72% reduction in the number of young people (up to 25 years) proceeded against for driving without a licence from 2015 to 2017[2]


[1] NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Reference sr18-16096.

[2] NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Reference sr18-16096.

KPMG Impact Assessment

KPMG calculated the savings generated in 2017 by the collaborative efforts in Bourke at $3.1 million – 2/3 in justice savings and 1/3 broader economic impact to the region.

This economic impact was five times greater than the operational costs of Maranguka in 2017. KPMG estimates that if just half the results achieved in 2017 are sustained, Bourke could deliver an additional economic impact of $7 million over the next five years.

Ways to Get Involved