Justice reinvestment: Creating brighter futures for Aboriginal young people

Justice reinvestment: Creating brighter futures for Aboriginal young people

The Maranguka Justice Reinvestment Project in Bourke, New South Wales is an innovative, community-led initiative that aims to demonstrate how justice reinvestment approaches can reduce prison populations, save money, and create brighter futures for Aboriginal young people.

Justice reinvestment is an approach that seeks to build stronger communities by redirecting money that would usually be spent on prison back into community services and supports. It is about addressing the underlying causes of crime and preventing it from happening in the first place.

Aboriginal leaders in Bourke have been working for many years to address problems facing the community. The Maranguka project (which can be translated as ‘caring for others’) was the initiative of the Bourke Aboriginal Community Working Party; a grassroots coalition of concerned local Aboriginal residents who wanted to see positive change in their community.

Since 2013, Just Reinvest NSW has worked in partnership with local community groups in Bourke to develop and implement a framework for justice reinvestment in Bourke. The Maranguka Justice Reinvestment Project is the first major justice reinvestment project in Australia.

The first stage of the justice reinvestment project has focused on building trust between community and service providers (including police and government agencies), identifying community priorities and developing Circuit Breaker programs to reduce offending and make the community safer.
Circuit Breaker programs include initiatives such as:

  • increasing the range of alternative sentencing options to reduce time in custody
  • services to help people convicted of a driving offence to legally obtain a license
  • support for participant’s particular needs, such as alcohol and other drug use, mental health, homelessness or other issues.

Community leaders have identified 11 key areas to be addressed through Circuit Breaker programs. These are:

  • justice
  • employment
  • education
  • service Delivery
  • youth engagement
  • drugs and alcohol
  • mental health
  • early childhood
  • out of home care
  • housing
  • family violence.

Within each of these areas results from the Circuit Breaker programs will provide baseline data from which outcomes can be monitored and evaluated, providing valuable guidance for future planning.

Read more about how the community is working to make positive changes in Bourke through the justice reinvestment project:

Maranguka Justice Reinvestment Project