Justice reinvestment approach key in wake of Royal Commission’s final report

Reconciliation Australia calls on state and federal governments to take a justice reinvestment approach to urgently needed reforms, following the release of the Royal Commission’s final report on youth detention and child protection in the Northern Territory.

The report, released today, outlines a range of measures necessary to correct the disturbing flaws in the Northern Territory’s child protection and youth detention systems.

Reconciliation Australia welcomes the recommendations and emphasises the importance of a collaborative, community-led approach to justice reinvestment to tackle the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – including youth – in the criminal justice system.

Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine said that a shift in policy and spending away from incarceration and towards prevention and early intervention was needed to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in youth detention.

“Evidence shows that localised early intervention, prevention and diversionary solutions developed in partnership with communities can reduce crime, build local capacity and strengthen local communities,” Ms Mundine said.

“There is mounting evidence that a community-driven, collaborative approach to justice reinvestment can help to tackle problems around offending and incarceration, while creating alternative pathways and brighter futures for young people.”

Ms Mundine noted that a ReachTEL poll commissioned by Amnesty International and released today indicated that there was broad support among the Australian population for Indigenous-led solutions.

“The poll revealed that two-thirds of Australians also believe the government should fund more prevention and rehabilitation programs run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.”

Ms Mundine said that while the commission’s inquiry related specifically to the Northern Territory, there is ample evidence that reforms are urgently needed across juvenile justice systems Australia-wide.

“As the commission’s interim report noted earlier this year, there have been up to 50 earlier reports and inquiries on the issues covered by the Commission’s Terms of Reference – yet the situation of children and young people in the child protection and youth detention systems has continued to deteriorate,” she said.

“We need to break these cycles by involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the development of a comprehensive, preventative and long-term approach to addressing the issues.”

Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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