Challenges to implementing a
justice reinvestment approach in Australia
As described in the preceding chapter, many submitters supported the
introduction of a justice reinvestment approach in Australia. A range of
benefits of justice reinvestment were noted, particularly its emphasis on an
evidence-based approach to identifying integrated strategies to assist in
strengthening communities. However, submitters acknowledged that the
implementation of a justice reinvestment approach would not be without its
The following discussion canvasses the challenges identified in the
evidence including a lack of clarity in the meaning of justice reinvestment, the
level of economic benefits accruing in Australia, and data and evaluation
Clarity of the meaning of
One significant challenge identified in the evidence was that the term 'justice
reinvestment' is not clearly defined. While there is a generally accepted
meaning of 'classic' justice reinvestment, as has been seen from overseas
experience, justice reinvestment can take on various forms when implemented. As
a consequence, there appears to be no one single definition with some commentators
observing that justice reinvestment can 'mean many things to many people' and
that it is 'an idea in progress rather than a full-fledged strategy'.
Australian Justice Reinvestment Project, commented that there is a 'groundswell
of commitment' to justice reinvestment in Australia without a really clear
understanding of the defining features of justice reinvestment; its conceptual
and theoretical foundations; how it relates to other criminal justice policy
currently on the landscape; and the likely effects of its introduction in the
Ms Melanie Schwartz, Australian Justice Reinvestment Project, argued that
there was a danger that because of the lack of conceptual analysis of justice
reinvestment 'the translation into the Australian context might involve major
gaps in understanding about its fundamental concepts and also its potential
pitfalls'. Some of the pitfalls are the sidelining of its 'broader focus on
building social cohesion in high-crime neighbourhoods—or worse, operating as a
cover for a strategy of disinvestment in state provision of prison and
Before justice reinvestment is adopted in Australia, the Australian Justice
Reinvestment Project called for analysis of the theoretical footings and socio-historical
context of the emergence and popularity of justice reinvestment.
Both Sara Hudson and the Attorney-General's Department commented that
the difficulties in defining justice reinvestment may lead to it being used as
a catch all phrase. Sara Hudson went on to state that it could describe any
number of 'feel good' type programs such as 'culturally appropriate' initiatives.
She argued that while these types of initiatives may help alleviate some of the
'symptoms' of disadvantage they will not address the causes.
Mr Kym Duggan, Attorney-General's Department, noted that the phrase
'justice reinvestment' is used widely and thus there is a risk that it may
become 'something of a buzz word or buzz phrase to be more precise'. As a
consequence, the phrase may be emptied of substantive content. Mr Duggan
concluded that it is important that 'justice reinvestment should be seen as a
system-wide approach to community safety rather than just another way of
stressing the importance of prevention, intervention and diversion activities'.
Furthermore, that justice reinvestment is best understood as an approach rather
than necessarily a solution.
While it was acknowledged that greater conceptual clarity is required,
the Law Council of Australia noted that a significant number of articles and
reports have been written about justice reinvestment. These enable the central
aspects of the concept to be articulated, 'despite the fact that questions
still remain in relation to the finer details of how it actually operates in
Professor David Brown of the Australian Justice Reinvestment Project saw
both benefits and weaknesses in the lack of a concise definition of justice
One of the other paradoxes, while we have been stressing the
importance of having a clear idea of the theoretical roots of justice
reinvestment—what it is attempting to achieve and making sure it isn't just
seen as a cost-saving exercise—is that at the same time, the fact that it may
be a bit vague and it appeals to a lot of people from different constituencies,
can also be a strength, in a sense; it can let a hundred flowers bloom within
what might be a rather nebulous and rhetorical slogan. As well as being a
worry, that can be a strength.
The success of justice reinvestment in the US has been due, in part, to
bipartisan support. The need for multipartisan support was also raised in
relation to implementation in Australia.
Ms Tammy Solonec, National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, commented
that the biggest challenge for justice reinvestment is political support:
In order for justice reinvestment to be nationally
successful, which is what we are advocating, it will require multi-party
support and support from all states and territories. In this regard, the
federal nature of political and justice systems is a real barrier.
Submitters noted that justice reinvestment may require significant
changes at the state government level to sentencing, parole and bail. Subsequent
reinvestment in prevention, early intervention, diversionary, rehabilitative
and post release programs will be required by both the Commonwealth and state
and territory governments. A multipartisan approach will also be required to ensure
that there is a long term commitment to the implementation of programs and
services. In the past, funding of programs has reflected the election cycle,
however, for a justice reinvestment approach to achieve its long term goals
successive government will need to commit to a continuous funding model.
Ms Schwartz commented:
I do not think you can do it if you do not have the
government onboard. That is why multipartisanism is so important, because it is
not just the government of the day. Something like justice reinvestment does
not work on election cycles; it is a long-term commitment. You need the
government of the day and you need potentially the government of the future as
well to make sure that, in three years time, you do not have a swing back to a
different type of policy.
Some submitters saw the adoption of a multipartisan approach as a
significant challenge given that many Australian states have supported tough
law and order approaches and strict sentencing provisions for minor offences
such as motor vehicle offences, particularly in Indigenous communities.
On the other hand, it was noted by NATSILS that while bipartisanship between
the current major parties in Australia is not very common, 'it can be argued
that they are not as far apart on the political spectrum as Democrats and Republicans
in the US'. NATSILS went on to state that 'the broad appeal of justice
reinvestment across diverse political constituencies may be just the thing to
bring political parties together'.
The AHRC also suggested that the economic rationalism argument of the
approach may appeal to some governments with a strict law and order approach as
it has done in the US. This could provide an incentive for governments to at
least support a trial of justice reinvestment.
Whole of government/whole of
A further challenge for justice reinvestment being applied in Australia
is the nature of our federated system where some programs are funded and driven
by the Commonwealth while the justice and corrections systems are the purview
of the states.
The Australian Red Cross, for example, commented that inter-governmental
collaboration will be required as the nine different governments have
responsibility for the array of services and sectors that impact on crime,
community safety and custodial outcomes.
However, the Attorney-General's Department provided a slightly different
view on inclusion of the Commonwealth in a whole of government approach:
One thing we do need to stress is that in viewing justice
reinvestment as a system wide concept, experience in the US and, to a lesser
degree, the UK, suggests that justice reinvestment is best applied at a
whole-of-jurisdiction level. In Australia, as in the US, this means at the
state or territory level. In Australia it is the states and territories that
dominate spending on law and order measures. The overwhelming number of
prisoners are incarcerated for offences against state and territory law and it
is the states and territories, along with local government, that are best
placed to respond to the factors that drive crime in particular localities.
There were also concerns that within each level of government, it will
be a challenge to break down administrative silos so that appropriate services
can be delivered in an effective and integrated way.
Sisters Inside commented that, in its experience, addressing clusters of issues
and needs is both more efficient and effective than referring women to a
variety of services.
Mr Chris Twomey, Western Australian Council of Social Service, commented:
One of the biggest barriers—as well as this challenge of
government silos—is that to address the underlying causes, it is not just the
justice system; it is also about education, health and a whole range of
different community services.
The Australian Red Cross noted that various reports have pointed to the
lack of coordination between relevant government departments, and the
scattering of funding and programs across various localities without clear and
cohesive objectives and leadership. Cross-portfolio thinking, actions and responses
that emphasise integrated planning, pooled funds, intra-government committees
and long term timeframes are required.
Professor Cunneen described it as not just 'moving the deckchairs' within a
It does require attention to sentencing reform, to issues
around bail on remand, to issues around the availability of community based
services in communities, and to issues around parole and parole revocations.
All of those things are clearly identified as being required to be addressed.
Mr Bonig, South Australian Justice Reinvestment Working Group, explained
Conversely, there are already a number of existing programs
that would fall under the umbrella of a justice reinvestment landscape. If they
were ...properly coordinated—and I once again come to this silo mentality—across
a whole range of different departments under a justice reinvestment umbrella,
they might be a source of funding to at least get the redelivery of some
programs up and running. The working group is looking at the moment at about
three or four potential communities—by 'communities' I mean discrete areas
within suburbs and/or country areas—as potential pilots for a justice
reinvestment program not by diverting money from the prison system but by
re-engineering and using existing projects. Ultimately, if that works, that
will then reduce offending and incarceration and we will then in the long term
be able to free up money that might otherwise be used to build new prisons or
expand prisons, which is the real concern.
While the difficulty of addressing administrative barriers was
acknowledged, it was also argued that if governments do not take a holistic and
integrated view, the Australian Red Cross concluded that there will be a continuation
of over investment in correctional facilities with the investments that are
made 'most likely contributing to crime rather than reducing it'.
Just Reinvest NSW suggested that the challenges of a whole of government
approach could be overcome through joint Key Performance Indicators and budget
governance established through Memorandum of Understandings between departments.
A further matter noted by some submitters was that a key component of
justice reinvestment is devolving accountability and responsibility to the
local level to find community-level solutions to community-level problems. However,
the political arrangements are considerably different in Australian than in the
US. Ms Sara Hudson, for example, commented that as a consequence there is not
as much scope for the devolution of funding and responsibility between
different governments as criminal justice is already the primary responsibility
of state governments, and 'it is highly unlikely that local government
authorities will be given this responsibility'.
This issue was also addressed by Ms Schwartz who noted in the US there
is a three-tier system of incarceration, and different county, state and
federal responsibilities in relation to criminal justice. This means that any
simple translation of justice reinvestment from the American context to
Australia is likely to be artificial. Ms Schwartz went on to question what the
devolution of funding and authority would mean in the Australian context.
It was noted that public perception will have an impact on the
acceptance of justice reinvestment. The public's knowledge of the criminal
justice system is poor and views are often formed through the media, family and
friends and through the political process. The Australian Red Cross observed
that in many instances, 'the information is partial, one sided, sensationalised
or inaccurate'. Further, the public appears to have a perception that crime is
constantly increasing and that offenders are treated leniently while victims of
crime have their lives disrupted if not destroyed.
Submitters commented that there is a danger that a justice reinvestment
approach will be seen as a 'soft on crime' option; that it allows offenders
easy options in the community rather than punishment through imprisonment.
Should this occur, governments may be reticent to support a justice reinvestment
approach. NATSILS argued that changing community perceptions about crime and
educating the public as to what actually works to make them safer will be the
most significant challenge to building momentum behind justice reinvestment in
Australia. NATSILS went on to comment:
If the general public could be made to understand that crime
is not increasing, that tougher sentences will not actually make their
communities safer, and that better outcomes could be achieved for less money,
governments could then move away from "tough on crime" campaigns
without jeopardising their election chances. However, rationality, evidence
based and cost effective arguments may not address the emotive and retributive
sentiments central to criminal justice politics.
NATSILS concluded that, for there to be a change in public perception, both
politicians and the media will need to change the way they talk about the
justice system. Governments should seek to influence public perceptions and
lead informed debates. In doing so they will need to 'move away from emotive
language that arouses and exploits people's fears'. This, according to NATSILS,
'will take political courage and leadership'.
Level of economic benefits
The Attorney-General's Department noted that 'in its classic
manifestation, justice reinvestment involves the diversion of money from mainstream
law and order measures and money [from] corrections budgets into prevention,
intervention and diversion'. Over time, this should result in savings across
the system which can either be reinvested into further prevention, intervention
or diversion activities or even harvested as general savings.
A part of the attraction for governments of a justice reinvestment
approach is savings and economic benefits. The level of savings expected were
not quantified in evidence with some submitters stating that the level of economic
benefit would be significant and others indicating that justice reinvestment would
be budget neutral over the long term. NATSILS, for example, commented that
savings in the future would justify initial costs and that there is 'great
potential' for savings through preventing reoffending.
Just Reinvest NSW pointed to modelling that it had commissioned which suggests
that justice reinvestment is a realistic fiscal option for government to be
It was also noted that the significant savings in the US were available
because of the high rates of incarceration and the actual population size. It
was noted that the economies of scale generated by reducing imprisonment in the
US are likely to be much higher than the potential in Australia. In addition,
the rates of incarceration of offenders are significantly different with three
quarters of offenders in the US being given custodial sentences, whereas only
one-fifth of offenders are subject to custodial sentences in Australia.
Therefore, the savings incurred as a result of reducing prisoner numbers are
unlikely to be as dramatic as those experienced in overseas jurisdictions.
Juvenile Justice NSW also commented that in NSW there are already
legislative mechanisms in place to divert young people with minor offences from
custody, that is, the Young Offenders Act 1997. This means that there
are comparatively fewer young people in custody that can be easily removed from
the corrections system. As a consequence, less funds will be freed up for the
initial investment in front end services.
However, Mr Duggan, Attorney-General's Department, did acknowledge that
while there are fewer budgetary savings, it did not mean that the
implementation of a justice reinvestment approach would not result in
significant social impacts.
The Productivity Commission cautioned against an over-emphasis on the
economic benefits of a justice reinvestment approach in Indigenous communities.
Mr McDonald noted that although the Indigenous incarceration rates are
'very alarming and need to be addressed, the numbers involved are often small'.
As there are under 1,000 juveniles in detention in Australia, and under 500
Indigenous juveniles. 'the economic pay-off from addressing that high detention
rate may be relatively small'. Mr McDonald concluded that 'the main benefits
are the social benefits to the individuals, families and the communities
Mr McDonald provided the committee with further details of the potential
'pay-off' from improving outcomes for Indigenous people. He stated that for
every one dollar spent on a non-Indigenous person in the public order and
safety area, government spends about $5.83 per Indigenous person. This provides
potential for economic savings if the rates of involvement with the criminal
justice system were more equivalent between non-Indigenous and Indigenous
There were also differing views as to whether the implementation of
justice reinvestment would be self-sustaining or if it would require a level of
up-front or longer term funding from government. Some submitters argued that by
generating savings in spending before reinvestment occurs, justice reinvestment
does not require significant levels of new funding and thus, the barrier of
finding new money in tight government budgets is overcome.
Other submitters, including the AHRC, suggested that while justice
reinvestment is about shifting funding, not new funding, there is a need for a 'modest'
amount of seed funding. This funding would be required for technical support
and coordination services. Ms Priday, AHRC, commented that the funding could be
provided by the Commonwealth and that 'it would be a very strategic way to use
some of the $40 million recently allocated to crime prevention by the Prime
The St Vincent de Paul Society supported the need for additional short term
funding on the basis that, at the present time, the state of prisons is such
that it is not reasonable to decrease prison funding to spend on justice
NSW Justice and Forensic Mental Health Network also argued for the continuation
of expenditure for custodial services, particularly health services as these
services play a vital health care function for those who enter custody. The
Network commented that, for many, the services accessed in the criminal justice
or forensic mental health system represent an important and, for some, the
first opportunity to address their individual health needs.
Submitters went on to comment that any initial funding would be repaid.
Once initial funding has been obtained, and community programs are running
effectively, savings will accrue as offenders are rehabilitated and provided with
treatment to deal with the underlying causes of their behaviour and reoffending
is significantly reduced.
The Attorney-General's Department provided its views. Mr Duggan stated that
justice reinvestment was probably not budget neutral. It is a long term
strategy and savings will be not be generated from law and order budgets in the
short term. Potentially, significant upfront funding will be needed with
savings 'hopefully' becoming available in the long term.
In the US, justice reinvestment has been aimed primarily at urban
populations as disadvantage and high offender numbers are concentrated in tight
geographic locations in cities and towns. Submitters commented that, in
Australia, many communities with high incarceration rates are small Indigenous
communities located in very remote, remote and rural areas.
This will have implications for how data can be mapped and how program and
service delivery is undertaken in these locations.
Very remote communities have poor access to criminal justice initiatives
and services generally, and the Law Council of Australia stated that:
...whilst remote and very remote communities are
well-positioned for place-based intervention, the remoteness of these
communities inhibits the participation of offenders in community-based
programs. Particular programs such as conditional bail support programs, which
successfully divert offenders away from court processes in other areas, may not
be appropriate in remote areas.
Ms Schwartz commented that careful consideration will need to be given
to how the problems in remote service delivery can be overcome and whether the
justice reinvestment approach can be adapted to provide sufficient services to
these communities to gain the promised benefits.
In addition, the justice reinvestment process 'calls for a consciously
democratic consensus-based approach to decision making in relation to the needs
of high-stakes communities'. The Australian Justice Reinvestment Project noted
that this appears to fit well with the observation of former Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma that 'the only way
that Indigenous service delivery and policy can succeed is through working in partnership
with communities'. However, the Australian Justice Reinvestment Project cited
the New South Wales Ombudsman as stating that the 'rhetoric about
"partnering" with communities, too often...is not translated into
communities having genuine involvement in decision-making about the solutions
to their problems'. The Australian Justice Reinvestment Project concluded that there
was a need to explore whether the urban bias of programs overseas can be 'rethought'
so that justice reinvestment in remote Australia can achieve successful results,
and 'to consider what the structural assumptions or practices in JR are that
might inhibit its usefulness in the Australian geographical context'.
While the committee agrees that the delivery of services in remote and
rural areas will need to be carefully considered, nonetheless during the course
of the inquiry evidence was received which pointed to the successful delivery
of some justice programs. For example, NAAJA provided evidence on the Ponki
(Peace in Tiwi) Mediation approach which was established in 2009. The model
seeks to unify traditional Tiwi dispute resolution processes with contemporary
Western mediation practices. It places emphasis on skin groups with the Ponki
mediators including representatives from all of the four Tiwi skin groups. The
appropriate mediators in a particular matter will vary according to the skin
groups of the parties to a particular dispute. NAAJA stated that the skin group
approach to mediation in the Tiwi Islands enables the Ponki Mediation to work
in a culturally safe, culturally relevant process consistent with traditional
Tiwi dispute resolution practices. The mediators have received ongoing training
and support from the Community Justice Centre (CJC).
The Ponki mediators currently mediate local disputes as well as in the
CJC's Correctional Centre conferencing program, where families of a victim and
offender are provided with an opportunity to attend mediation with the offender
at Darwin Correctional Centre prior to their release. They also write reference
letters for the Court.
Mr Woodroffe, NAAJA, explained the success of this approach:
The credibility of this organisation and its strength is that
[it] has now been ongoing for three years. They are a credible group of people...that
we utilise in the Supreme Court. They provide context in relation to the
person's family, the community and particularly the attitude of the person. I
can even say to the point that they will recognise that the person is someone
who is mucking up and is not wanted back in the community. They do not pull any
A further matter raised with the committee was the challenge of
tailoring a justice reinvestment approach to the needs of disadvantaged groups
who are not clustered in one particular location.
The AHRC suggested that the justice reinvestment approach could
accommodate the needs of particular disadvantaged groups by analysing the
characteristics of the prison population in pilot communities and then targeting
appropriate programs in a reinvestment strategy. The AHRC gave the example of young
people coming into contact with the juvenile justice system. As part of the
analysis required under a justice reinvestment approach, it may be discovered
that non-attendance at school and suspension rates in the community where offenders
are located are also very high. Strategies could be implemented to address
school attendance and suspensions as well as specific programs to improve
future employment prospects. The AHRC commented that a justice reinvestment
approach provides the means 'to offer location specific crime prevention
strategies and customised programs for young people'.
Analysis of communities may also identify a high level of offenders with
psychosocial disability or cognitive impairment in a particular location. Again,
strategies and programs could then be put in place to support these communities.
In addition, it was noted that the skilling of services within a justice
reinvestment approach would ensure that adequate diversion, support and
mentoring is available to meet the particular needs of disadvantaged groups.
Availability of data
The justice reinvestment approach is underpinned by collection and
rigorous evaluation of data both at the initial stage with justice mapping and
with the evaluation of the programs implemented. The importance of data was
highlighted in evaluations of the justice reinvestment approach implemented in
the UK. Ms Hudson commented that accurate mapping was difficult in the UK
because of the particular challenges of the UK administrative system and its
diverse data sets. Ms Hudson stated that, as a consequence, most justice
reinvestment initiatives in the UK 'lack the sophisticated, economically driven
system-level analysis characteristic of Justice Reinvestment in the United
Data requirements were also identified by the House of Commons Justice
Committee in its review of justice reinvestment. The two key data elements
required at the justice mapping stage are the availability of data to input
into the mapping process and data on costs of current service provision to
offenders in a particular locality both within, and external to, the criminal
justice system. At the evaluation stage, the elements of effective evaluation
include appropriate performance measures (for example, the amount of justice
expenditure saved or avoided, recidivism rates, and benefits to local
communities); appropriate monitoring systems to collate data across agencies on
outcomes; and the capacity of agencies to collect, record and monitor the data
required. The House of Commons Justice Committee also noted that there needs to
be expertise and capacity to undertake justice mapping and interpret the
analysis as well as expertise to interpret results at the evaluation stage.
The data needed to drive justice reinvestment in the US is extensive and
ensures that rigorous and sophisticated analysis can be undertaken. The US
Bureau of Justice Assistance data requirements for sites seeking grants for
local justice reinvestment projects includes annual and monthly prison
admissions and releases for the last 5 – 10 years; information on the nature of
the criminal justice population; and the composition of the prison population.
The South Australian Justice Reinvestment Working Group provided a list
of data which it considered was needed to properly evaluate a suitable area for
a justice reinvestment pilot:
- offenders residence at time of offending;
- prisoners release residential address;
- nature and type of offending;
- social demographics of the residential areas;
- prisoners family and cultural background; and
- what services have been and are currently on offer in the
Submitters noted that there were gaps in the data sets that would be required
at both the mapping and evaluation stages of justice reinvestment. The
inadequacy of data relating to evaluation is discussed below.
One of the major sources of data on the justice system is the Report
on Government Services. The Productivity Commission noted that some
indicators included in the report are considered fully developed as there are complete
and comparable data for them, so comparisons of performance across states and
territories can be made. However, for some other indicators, inadequate data
means that reports cannot be made against an indicator, for example, prisoner
health. In other areas, data is available but it is not comparable across
states and territories, because they collect the data in different ways so the
available data is reported with caveats.
Where data is available, it is often at the state level. Professor
Cunneen commented that state-based figures are not the 'fine-grained'
information used in the US.
In addition, as noted above, some data sets are neither collected nor presented
in a consistent manner, making comparison and analysis difficult. Sisters
Inside and the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples called for a
nationally consistent collection of data including the collection of data on family
violence, health and housing, referrals to diversionary courts, and access to
parole or early release.
In relation to data that is not available at all, it was noted that in
Western Australia there is currently a lack of quality data measuring alcohol
and other drug use, mental health rates, and other social issues identified as
being found disproportionately amongst the prison population.
CAALAS commented that while data collection has improved in the Northern
Territory as a result of the Closing the Gap and Stronger Futures initiatives,
some critical data relevant to youth offending is not available. This includes
data on youth recidivism and the involvement of children in care in the criminal
justice system. CAALAS reported the findings of the Review of the Northern
Territory Youth Justice System:
To complement its consultative framework, the Review sought
to obtain and analyse all relevant data about youth justice in the Territory.
Throughout this process however, it became clear that data collection itself
was an issue, and a recommendation would be required to improve the collection
of all necessary information relating to youth offending.
Professor David Brown, Australian Justice Reinvestment Project, pointed
to figures for receptions into prison as a further example of inadequate data
collection. While there are figures derived from the census conducted once a
year, this does not provide a complete picture of receptions as it tends to
emphasise people on long sentences and misses those moving quickly in and out
of the corrections system, for example, those on remand. Professor Brown noted:
The New South Wales inquiry into bail showed...that a very
significant proportion, nearly 70 per cent, of prison receptions in a year were
people on remand. And about half of those were on remand for less than a week.
So there is that picture of large numbers of people going in and out incredibly
quickly—and, apart from anything else, causing all sorts of problems for the
prison system and its ability to process them. That is completely hidden by
looking at the census figures and its snapshot of one day a year.
The Federation of Community Legal Centres pointed to the situation in
Victoria where, unlike New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia, there
is no agency which independently compiles, analyses and publishes crime
statistics and prison trends or evaluates court and corrections program
outcomes. While the Victorian Ombudsman recommended consideration of the
establishment of an independent agency, this has not yet occurred.
It was also noted that there is little data in some key areas at
community level. CAALAS commented that most of the data released by Northern Territory
government agencies is Territory-wide, which makes it difficult to provide
quantitative evidence on the needs of particular communities.
Mr Bonig also indicated that the type of data not available at the community
level included offending rate by number of people in the community; rate of
return to that community for people post release; and underlying socioeconomic
data behind those elements such as housing, education, health, age groups of
people that are dropping out of school in that area, prevalence of mental
health issues within that area, and family relationship status. Mr Bonig
commented that if the data is available, it is probably not being captured for
the defined area and is certainly not being made publicly available. Mr Bonig
concluded that 'to have a proper justice reinvestment program which is
economically and data driven, you need to drill down and get that sort of
Sharing of data
Submitters commented that in some circumstances, data is available but
it cannot be accessed. For example, community organisations submit data for
contractual reporting to government however it is rarely made available for
research and evaluation. WACOSS commented that:
Unfortunately in practice, data collection and submission for
the purposes of contractual reporting is too often a one-way process, where the
data gathered is driven by agency priorities and concerns, rather than the
interests of evaluating outcomes. Where data is submitted by community
service organisations, it is seldom seen again; rarely analysed and reported on
in a meaningful fashion; and information gathered about comparable programs,
agencies or service types is seldom, if ever, accessible to independent
It was argued that the current lack of accessibility of government held
data by non-government organisations impedes research and non-partisan policy
development by community sector organisations.
Mr Chris Twomey, WACOSS, stated:
It is actually critically hard to get hold of that data out
of many of the government agencies that are funding programs, particularly if
we are talking about corrective services and police and so on. The data
sharing—and making sure that the data is comparable and consistent—is really
critical. So this is why we think there is a crucial leadership role that the
Commonwealth can play in this space.
Addressing inadequate data
While the difficulties with data availability were clearly outlined,
evidence was also received that action is being undertaken to address this
The NJCEOs have also identified issues with the prisoner data sets and
have written to the National Corrective Services Statistics Unit (NCSSU) Board
of Management requesting it consider specific improvements to the data sets.
The request is being considered as part of a review of the ABS corrective
services, Australia data set.
The AIHW also maintains some important data sets including the Juvenile
Justice National Minimum Data Set (JJ NMDS). AIHW publishes the reports Youth
justice in Australia and Youth detention population each year. The
National Prison Health Data Collection (NPHDC) was carried out in 2009, 2010
The AIHW noted the importance of the ability to identify the communities
that produce a disproportionate number of offenders for a justice reinvestment
approach. Information contained in the JJ NMDS could be used to identify
the communities where young people under youth justice supervision come from as
the JJ NMDS is 'a person-level, longitudinal data set with high levels of
quality and coverage'. As it has the ability to track the complete supervision
history of chronic young offenders and to identify changes in supervision
patterns over time, it would be useful for the purposes of justice
The AIHW indicated that it is currently working with the states and
territories to develop a data set to measure juvenile recidivism. The AIHW advised
that the collection 'would allow for the effectiveness of approaches aimed at
reducing offending, such as a justice reinvestment approach, to be monitored
The data collected by the NPHD has also expanded with data relating to
prisoners preparing for discharge from prison being collected from 2012. The
AIHW stated that it is holding discussions with jurisdictions to develop new
and expanded data in the prisoner health area.
The Attorney-General's Department also commented that the national
partnership arrangements under the COAG Reform Council was one way for
progressing further improvements. Mr McDonald commented that it showed some
promise as a mechanism, if the Commonwealth wanted to influence the states and
territories in relation to improved data collection. He noted that in areas
such as hospital waiting lists and immunisation rates, the states and
territories have changed their practices in response to national partnership
agreements. Mr McDonald concluded that 'I think in this space, where you might
be looking for responses on the education front or on the economic front rather
than a direct justice intervention, that might be a good mechanism to go
Policy and program options
The second step of the justice reinvestment approach is to develop
policy and program options to address the identified drivers of crime. Options
within two areas have generally been identified: those within the criminal
justice system (often legislative) such as bail and remand arrangements; and
programs within communities and the corrections system which seek to divert
offending and reoffending and address the determinants of crime.
Criminal justice options
In jurisdictions in Australia, legislation aims to divert people away
from the corrections system, for example, the Young Offenders Acts in New
South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia seek to divert young people
with minor offences from custody. However, recent changes to the state and
territory justice systems will mean increased incarceration. These include the
introduction of mandatory sentencing, minimum terms, stop and search powers,
stricter sentences for minor offences and reduced parole.
The issue of mandatory sentencing was addressed in evidence. It was
noted mandatory sentencing takes away judicial discretion to divert offenders
to non-custodial programs and increases incarceration rates. Often the time
spent in prison is short: in the Northern Territory, which has mandatory
sentencing legislation, 60 per cent of Indigenous prisoners are incarcerated
for less than six months, and 38 per cent for less than three months. The
cycling of prisoners through the corrections system is particularly detrimental,
as well as costly. Professor Cunneen stated:
...the constant cycling is in fact more destructive than
prisoners serving longer periods of time because it is not just pulling those
people out; it is when they re-enter the community that the problems re-occur.
It was argued that incarceration rates would decrease if incarceration
was seen by governments as a last resort.
However, it was noted that often these laws have been part of a tough on
crime/law and order agenda and that governments have chosen to react to public
perceptions rather than evidence of actual increases in crime.
At the same time that some governments have pursued a tough on crime
agenda, economic considerations have resulted in the closure of diversion
courts such as drug and alcohol courts, for example SMART Court in the Northern
Territory. This court was specifically designed to bring a therapeutic
jurisprudence approach to people with drug and alcohol issues.
In Queensland, all diversion courts, including the Special Circumstances Court,
have recently been closed.
In NSW, the Youth Drug and Alcohol Court was closed.
Dr Caitlin Hughes commented:
Certainly there have been some concerning changes in many
parts of Australia—the Northern Territory and also Queensland—with the closure
of three drug courts there. This was in spite of a very significant evidence
base showing that the programs not only worked but that they were making
significant contributions to the offenders and the community. So the steps
against the use of the proven strategy are certainly retrograde.
However, the committee received evidence that a new mental health court
has been recently established in Western Australia.
A necessary part of the justice reinvestment approach is having programs
available which will successfully address the drivers of crime. As Mr McDonald,
Productivity Commission, stated 'justice reinvestment only pays off if the
interventions themselves are successful'.
The NJCEOs commented that 'because justice reinvestment strategies are
underpinned by projections of the quantifiable impact of crime reduction
initiatives and associated cost reductions, the existence of a strong evidence
base is considered essential'.
However, many submitters pointed to the difficulties of obtaining robust
evidence about effective measures to reduce crime and incarceration,
particularly in relation to the outcomes of programs for Indigenous offenders.
This is particularly the case when trying to draw a conclusive connection
between programs aimed at the determinants of crime – education and training,
housing, health – and the change to justice outcomes. The Department of
Communities and Social Inclusion, South Australian Government, commented:
Simply shifting resources to unproven wish list programmes
will not however support sustainable change. The experience in the United
Kingdom of expending a great deal of funding on parenting programmes, for
example, showed limited outcomes in preventing local area crime when the
programmes implemented were directed as general support programmes rather than
The following discussion canvasses the problems of evaluation of
programs followed by challenges in the delivery of programs, particularly in
Evaluation of programs
Evaluation is a critical part of justice reinvestment in the United
States where evaluation is rigorous, sophisticated and effective.
However, it was argued that evaluation of most programs in Australia does not
reach the benchmarks required of a justice reinvestment approach. Mr McDonald
commented that social programs are 'often more difficult to evaluate and they
are often longer term, so the number and the rigour of the evaluations is
In addition, evaluations are not undertaken with a view to assessing outcomes
rather they focus on process (ensuring that the programs are well
administered), are undertaken internally and/or are not publicly available.
Evaluations may also be expensive, and many small programs that may be
successful do not have funding to undertake an effective evaluation process.
Mr Duggan, Attorney-General's Department, commented on the scarcity of
Unfortunately, in Australia there is currently...a scarcity of
robust evidence about effective measures to reduce rates of crime and
incarceration. That does not mean there are not good programs out there that
are doing good work; it just means that we cannot prove they do. This is particularly
so in relation to outcomes for programs for Indigenous participants. The
current quantity, quality and availability of evaluations about what justice
programs work in this area is not good.
Submitters stated that problems with evaluation arise because of a lack
of adequate data. Data needed for evaluations must be built into programs
before they are rolled out. This does not always occur, either because it is
not considered during the development phase or because of funding concerns.
Another issue identified is that evaluation is hampered by the method of
funding of programs. Often programs are funded for a pilot and then the program
is defunded after a period so that no evaluation can be carried out as to
whether or not the program has been successful.
Mr McDonald also commented on the difficulties that silos place on
evaluation. For example, the Productivity Commission would like to develop an
indicator which measures whether people get access to appropriate support services
when they leave prison that will help them integrate into the community and to get
a job. However, once a person leaves prison, they become the responsibility of
a different portfolio, and the two data systems are not comparable. As a
consequence, the proportion of people who leave prison leave into a case
managed or a supported system cannot be identified. Mr McDonald concluded that '[a]lthough
it is an indicator we would like to work on, the silos are stopping us from
developing an appropriate data set to support it'.
There are additional difficulties in evaluating programs in Indigenous
communities with the Productivity Commission agreed that evaluation of
Indigenous programs was inadequate. The lack of robust evaluation of
interventions was identified during a roundtable into the role of evaluation in
improving Indigenous policy.
The unique methodological and political challenges in evaluating Indigenous
programs were identified as:
- Indigenous communities are often quite small and as a result most
data sources are unsuitable for Indigenous program evaluation because they do
not have sufficient numbers of respondents for analysis;
- difficulties with defining a meaningful control group against
which to measure impacts;
- the population of Indigenous communities are fluid, thus it is
difficult to estimate the effect of community targeted treatment on the
effects of the Indigenous community selection process itself –
normally long drawn-out negotiations between government and Indigenous elders –
will be a component of what is measured in the estimated treatment impact; and
- given the number of programs which can run concurrently for the
Indigenous population, it is very difficult to evaluate any single program in a
particular Indigenous community.
The NJCEOs also commented on evaluation of Indigenous programs and
stated that 'without robust evaluations of Indigenous justice programs which
demonstrate quantitative outcomes, it will be difficult for Australian
governments to develop and confidently implement justice reinvestment
Examples of existing programs
While there are substantial difficulties in undertaking evaluations, the
effectiveness of some existing programs have been evaluated. The following
discussion looks at programs in the areas of diversion within the justice
system; post-release strategies; and the social determinants of crime.
The 2006 review of the Western Australia Drug Court found that the Drug
Court was more expensive than a community-based order but far less costly than
a custodial order. However, savings of approximately $67,000 per Drug Court
client were calculated based on a comparison of the sentence received and that
which the person would have received if not involved with the program. When the
lower reoffending rates of Drug Court participants were taken into account, the
study estimated that each fresh offending episode cost the Drug Court just over
$36,000 compared with $43,000 for the community-based group and $47,000 for the
prison group, thus rendering the Drug Court more cost effective than the other
options. In addition, Drug Court involvement had a beneficial effect on
recidivism with participants being 17 per cent less likely to return to correction
than prisoners and 10.4 per cent less likely than those on community
The committee was also provided with the recently completed economic
analysis for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders in relation to
prison versus residential treatment. The analysis was undertaken by Deloitte
Access Economics on behalf of the National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol
Committee of the Australian National Council on Drugs. The cost-benefit
analysis found considerable benefits associated with the diversion of
Indigenous offenders into community residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation
services instead of incarceration. These benefits were not only financial but
also improvements in health and mortality of offenders and included:
total financial savings associated with diversion to community residential
rehabilitation compared with prison are $111 458 per offender.
costs of treatment in community residential rehabilitation services are
substantially cheaper than prison. Diversion would lead to substantial savings
per offender of $96 446, based on a cost of community residential rehabilitation
treatment of $18 385 per offender). Even if the high side estimate of the
cost per offender for residential rehabilitation treatment was used ($33 822),
the saving would still be substantial at around $81 000.
residential treatment is also associated with better outcomes compared with
prison — lower recidivism rates and better health outcomes, and thus savings in
health system costs. The savings associated with these additional benefits of
community residential treatment are approximately $15 012 per offender.
addition, treatment of Indigenous offenders in the community rather than in
prison is also associated with lower mortality and better health-related
quality of life. In monetary terms, these non-financial benefits have been
estimated at $92 759 per offender.
A highly successful pre and post release program is the Throughcare
Project in the Northern Territory. Throughcare is funded by the Commonwealth
Government, initially as a pilot, and supported by NAAJA. It provides intensive
rehabilitation and reintegration services for Aboriginal prisoners. It utilises
a strength-based approach to assist prisoners to address their diverse
transitional needs including rehabilitation, accommodation, employment,
education, training, health, life skills, reconnection to family and community
and social connectedness.
The goal of the Project is to enable clients to succeed upon their
return to their community and reduce repeat offending. Caseloads are small (a
maximum of 15 clients) to ensure that clients receive an appropriate level
of support. The client is case managed for six months prior to and post release.
Ms Collins, NAAJA, stated that the work is very intensive and detailed.
However, the success rates have been high with a reoffending rate of about 10
per cent for the clients in the program. This has been mainly associated with
breaching conditions rather than reoffending. Mr Sharp, NAAJA, commented:
In the Northern Territory the recidivism rate is closer to 50
per cent. That is an example of an Aboriginal-specific approach to intensive
case management. When you support people to reintegrate back into the community
there is a lower incidence of reoffending.
Mr Sharp acknowledged that the program has been running for only two
years, however the recidivism rate was not the only measure of its success. He
stated that Throughcare targeted clients most at risk of reoffending. While
reoffending may occur, 'even in those instances, we can see [the] enormous
strides that they are taking in their lives to address some of the issues.
Sure, they may go back to jail that next time but they might be on a trajectory
where they are committing less serious offences and less likely to reoffend in
The Attorney-General's Department commented that it considered that the
Throughcare model provided benefits to assist with lowering recidivism. Mr
Duggan stated that investment in breaking the cycle of recidivism improves
In the United States, a particularly successful early intervention
program was the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) program. The NFP pairs nurses with
first-time, low-income mothers during the child's first two years.
It is used in 29 states in the US, for example in Texas the program was
provided to 2000 families in high risk communities in its first year of
The model has been replicated in the United Kingdom.
Evaluation of the NFP has pointed to a range of positive outcomes
including improved prenatal health, reduction in childhood injuries, increased
involvement by fathers, higher child developmental scores, improved readiness
for school, less involvement in the criminal justice system of teenagers (15–20
year follow up of NFP children) and lower rates of substance misuse in
teenagers (NFP children) and mothers.
The Commonwealth is funding the NFP model as part of the Closing the Gap
initiative. In announcing the establishment of the NFP in Australia in 2008, the
then Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Nicola Roxon, stated that the NFP
'will be adapted here to reflect the Australian health care system and the
geographic and cultural diversity across Indigenous communities'. The
Government committed to initially establish up to 10 sites to support the
The Australian Nurse Family Partnership Program (ANFPP) is open to women
less than 28 weeks pregnant with an Indigenous child and living (or intending
to stay) in a Service Area. Mothers will be supported by trained staff through
structured programs. ANFPP teams will consist of a nurse supervisor, nurse home
visitor and Aboriginal Community Workers. The ANFPP aims to:
improve health outcomes for women pregnant with an Aboriginal
and/or Torres Strait Islander child by helping women engage in good
preventative health practices;
- support parents to improve their child’s health and development;
- help parents develop a vision for their own future, including
continuing education and finding work.
Currently there are three organisations in the program located at
Cairns, Alice Springs and Wellington.
A formative evaluation of the ANFPP was undertaken by Ernst & Young
in 2011. The evaluation found that despite the short time in which the program
had been running, three of the four sites taking part in the evaluation
believed they were seeing significant benefits from the program. Further, the
long establishment period and consequent deficit in reliable data describing
the entire span of program delivery, suggests more time is required to fully
assess the program's appropriateness and effectiveness.
The Attorney-General's Department provided information on evaluations of
programs under the National Indigenous Law and Justice Framework. As part of
the Framework, the Commonwealth provided $2 million to undertake evaluations of
state and territory programs. Five evaluation projects looked at 40 different
activities across Australia.
Mr Duggan commented that the evaluation did not identify any standout programs.
Some programs were unable to demonstrate outcomes because of difficulties in
evaluation such as poor data collection and lack of evaluation processes built
into programs. Those that could demonstrate outcomes were 'more around the
integrity and legitimacy of the justice process rather than having a big effect
in terms of reducing recidivism'. Other programs which were able to demonstrate
genuinely positive outcomes were very specific, location based and quite small.
A number of good diversion programs exist, but it was stated that their success
to a large degree depends on the person running the program.
As a result of its evaluations and analysis, the Attorney-General's
Department stated that justice reinvestment might look at reducing recidivism
in violent offenders post release:
In comparison to the US, most Australian prisoners are
incarcerated exactly for that—for serious or violent offences. In the short
term, this may mean that rather than looking at options to reduce the
likelihood of violent offenders being sentenced to prison, a justice
reinvestment strategy in the Australian context might focus on reducing violent
recidivism post release.
In support of this focus, Mr Duggan noted that modelling undertaken by
the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research in 2009 found that
reducing the rate of reimprisonment among Indigenous prisoners by 10 per cent
would reduce the Indigenous sentenced prison population by an estimated 365
inmates. A 10 per cent reduction in the rate at which new-sentenced
Indigenous prisoners arriving in custody would only reduce the prison
population by 16 inmates.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data also indicated that there is a very high
recidivism rate amongst violent offenders. In addition, a high proportion of
those facing reimprisonment were being reimprisoned because of violent
offences, even if they had been imprisoned for a different type of offence
Mr Duggan concluded:
The evidence, we believe, is overwhelming that that is where
that greater investment is needed, because if you break the cycle of recidivism
you also improve community safety, but it is not an easy political argument to
have because, effectively, you are putting resources into what is sometimes the
hard end of this process.
The Closing the Gap Clearinghouse
The Productivity Commission noted that there is an urgent need for more
research and evaluation to identify successful Indigenous programs and the
reasons for their success. The Council of Australia Governments (COAG) has
established the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse to compile, disseminate, and
promote research and program evaluation in the field of Indigenous policy. The Productivity
Commission noted that the Clearinghouse is becoming a valuable resource for
policy makers and Indigenous communities, and is the source of some of the
'things that work' case studies in this report.
The Productivity Commission went on to comment that 'the Clearing House will
only achieve its full potential if governments commit to funding and publishing
more evaluations and research'.
Mr McDonald also commented that the Clearing House looks at programs
across all of the Closing the Gap strategic areas, which include safe and
supportive communities that have a particular justice focus within them. He
stated that justice programs are some of the weaker areas in this work as there
are not very many evaluated programs available.
Delivery of programs
One of the key issues in the delivery of justice reinvestment programs
in the community was the level of service capacity and integration of NGOs,
community commitment and access to technical advice and support.
Community Legal Services NSW commented that there is a lack of individuals with
the relevant high level skills sets.
This issue was also highlighted by Juvenile Justice NSW which pointed to the
difficulties with the management of adolescents and young people with
challenging behaviours and the limited skills in the NGO sector to do so.
Juvenile Justice NSW stated that it has frequently experienced problems
sourcing services from NGOs as young people have often burned their bridges at
refuges, crisis accommodation and other support services. The challenging
behaviour of these young people is symptomatic of their complex needs, which if
left unmet, often lead them to the justice system. It was argued that a
concerted capacity building program to expand the knowledge base of NGOs was
Mr Twomey, WACOSS, commented that building capacity for service
integration will be important to ensure that the various services accessed by
an individual or family are addressing all their needs. In particular, services
will need the capacity to identify and address underlying issues such as housing
stress or alcohol and drug issues which may impact on achieving a sustainable
In relation to building capacity, the Report of the Youth Justice Think
Tank recommended that 'community sector peak bodies be funded to build capacity
and provide coordination for a collaborative approach to justice reinvestment,
including evidence-based service planning and evaluation, data collection and
analysis, policy development and advocacy'.
At the program level, many submitters pointed to difficulties with
accessing and retaining funding for programs. This is in part due to funding
programs reflecting the electoral cycle so that many programs receive between
only one and four years of funding. These funding cycles inhibit the building
of trust with communities, increases the program staff attrition rate and
ultimately reduces the efficiency of the programs resulting in poor cost
Ms Hopkins, Just Reinvest NSW, for example, commented that
Often they will lose their funding or have their funding cut.
In justice reinvestment, if a program is funded, the monitoring and evaluation
mechanisms would require that that program demonstrate outcomes. If it
demonstrated outcomes, the government would commit under a justice reinvestment
framework to reinvest a proportion of savings into those sorts of programs. So
there would be a model for long-term sustainability of funding. That would have
a positive influence on the effectiveness of these programs and, indeed, the
evidence base around these programs which is so sadly lacking.
Mr Duggan provided information which indicated that lack of long term
funding commitment is being addressed by government. He stated that there has
been a move towards longer term funding contracts more generally with the
Commonwealth committed to achieving this under the national compact with the not-for-profit
sector. While the Attorney-General's Department currently funds programs for
three years, it would like to move, for some of those programs, to five-year
Delivery of Indigenous programs
The delivery of programs in Indigenous communities was seen as
particularly challenging. NATSILS cited comments which indicated that the
processes which characterise justice reinvestment 'align well with what is
acknowledged to be "best-practice" in program implementation in
Indigenous communities'. These processes include bipartisanship and
consensus-driven solutions, the devolution of decision-making to the local
level, the localisation of solutions, and the high level of input from the
high-stakes communities about what might address criminogenic factors in that particular
place. In addition, the democratic nature of decision-making in the justice
reinvestment methodology 'is a significant departure from the way that
government has traditionally approached policy making for Indigenous communities,
but it coheres with what Indigenous advocates have always said about how to
give programs implemented in Indigenous communities the best chance of success:
by letting communities lead the direction of those strategies'.
However, other submitters argued that past experience of Indigenous
communities with government programs has often been less than satisfactory, for
example, funding changes have meant the cessation of programs. In order for
justice reinvestment programs to be implemented in Indigenous communities,
governments will have to rebuild trust within the community.
CIS also questioned whether Indigenous communities would be able to
support the alternative solutions to be delivered within a justice approach.
For example, there are low levels of literacy, numeracy and work readiness in
Indigenous communities. CIS pointed to the strategy to get members of remote
South Australian Aboriginal communities to become community constables. This is
failing, with 9 out of 12 community constable positions vacant. CIS commented
that civil society relies on the effective functioning of civil institutions: if
these are 'weakened (or do not exist, as is the case for remote Indigenous
communities such as Yuendumu), then the normative foundation for a shared commitment
to the rule of law is undermined (or does not exist)'.
The lack of interpreter services was raised by the Law Society Northern
Territory. The Society argued that the most significant barrier to the
effectiveness of programs is that interpreters are not used. As a consequence,
the impact is limited and this substantially limits access to rehabilitation
for remote Aboriginal prisoners.
Mr Hunyor concluded:
...that we do have a lot of data that categorically establishes
what we know does not work, and that is prison. It is harder for us to have the
hard evidence to establish what things may work, although we have a fair idea
from working in the sector and from seeing the results what we think will work.
But what we are confident in saying does not work, and everyone should be
confident in saying does not work, is jail.
The preceding discussion highlights some of the challenges of
implementing a justice reinvestment approach in Australia. The committee does
not consider these challenges to be so difficult or so complex as to negate the
value of a justice reinvestment approach. Rather, they present an opportunity
to identify new approaches within the overarching philosophy of justice
The committee acknowledges that without a multipartisan approach there
is the potential for justice reinvestment in Australia to fail. However, the
committee considers that there are opportunities to promote multipartisan/multijurisdictional
support for justice reinvestment as evidence was received of shifts in the
thinking of some governments.
The systemic challenges such as barriers between and within government that
hamper the comprehensive and integrated approach to the delivery of policy
options, are complex and long standing. While it will be difficult to address
these matters, there are benefits for governments and the community in
integrated, effective and efficient service delivery.
There was debate in the evidence in relation to the economic benefits to
be gained through a justice reinvestment approach in Australia. The committee
acknowledges that there are significant differences between the corrections
landscape in Australia and that of the United States. However, it is not only
the savings in the corrections system that result from a justice reinvestment
approach; there are the direct savings in other services such as police and
courts. In addition, the committee considers that the long term savings to the
economy of addressing the social determinants of crime are significant and may
far outweigh the immediate impact on the corrections budget.
The committee has noted the problems with the availability of data and
the lack of rigorous evaluation of programs. This is a significant problem, but
one which the committee considers can be addressed. In relation to data, lack
of consistency in data sets across jurisdictions is a long standing problem.
This is being addressed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the
Productivity Commission and the Australian Bureau of Statistics in many areas.
However, the committee considers that the particular data needs within justice
reinvestment require a concerted effort to improve data collection.
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth take a leading role in
identifying the data required to implement a justice reinvestment approach and
establish a national approach to the data collection of justice indicators.
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth make a commitment to
sharing relevant data held by Commonwealth line agencies with justice reinvestment
initiatives in other jurisdictions.
The committee notes the evidence received about the need for sustainable
funding of programs, beyond the electoral cycle, to enable their proper
development, and the building of trust with communities, thereby maximising
their efficiency and the opportunity to obtain a realistic appraisal of their
The committee also notes the evidence received about evaluations of
programs, particularly the comments of the Attorney-General's Department. The
committee considers that while there are difficulties in ensuring robust
evaluation, there are many justice reinvestment type programs being delivered
which have been shown to have significant positive outcomes. In addition, the
committee considers that some successful programs may not have been identified
as having an outcome on the justice system because of a lack of focus on this
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth, State and Territory
governments recognise the importance of long term, sustainable funding for
programs including adequate provision for robust evaluation.
The committee has also considered the Attorney-General Department's view
that justice reinvestment in Australia might focus on reducing violent
recidivism post release and acknowledges the success of the Throughcare program
in the Northern Territory in this regard. However, the committee notes that,
while this is a very worthwhile aspect, this would represent a very narrow
focus on what must be an integrated approach to addressing the determinants of
The committee notes the work of the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse. The
committee also considers that a central clearinghouse is required to assist in
identifying successful justice reinvestment strategies within all communities
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth consider the
establishment of a justice reinvestment clearinghouse to compile, disseminate,
and promote research and program evaluation in all communities.
Addressing disadvantage, particularly where disadvantage is deep and persistent,
is complex. There will be significant challenges in identifying the right
policies, services and criminal justice responses; implementing those policies,
and conducting evaluations. Also the benefits of justice reinvestment may take
some time to eventuate. However, the committee considers that justice
reinvestment has sufficiently attractive attributes to warrant genuine
consideration in Australia.
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