Community-Government partnerships

Are you a First Nations community interested in accessing support to develop justice reinvestment? Express your interest by completing the below form and returning it to Alternatively, reach out for a yarn and the team can document your communities expression of interest. Applications close the end of April.

If you are interested in learning more about the process for expressing interest in community readiness support, what types of support are available or how this support fits into the broader justice reinvestment funding package announced by the Australian Government please refer to our FAQ document below or read on.

Have a question not answered? Email us at


Defining ‘justice reinvestment’

Justice reinvestment is a way of working that shifts power and decision making to First Nations communities to self-determine the best way to improve justice outcomes in their community. It works by bringing together local First Nations people to share data, evidence, their lived experiences and expertise to design and develop a holistic justice response that is unique to their local community.

Although the specific priorities of each community may vary each justice reinvestment initiative will commonly adopt a life course approach to crime by focusing on early intervention and prevention in intersecting areas of justice. These may include but are not limited to policing, health, housing, education, employment, family support along with access to culture and language. Whilst working primarily at the local level justice reinvestment also provides communities with the tools to advocate their experiences into broader calls for systems change including within service delivery and law or policy reform.

Hear just some of the stories shared by the First Nations people from Moree, Mt Druitt and Bourke about how justice reinvestment is making an impact in their community.

The role of Government in enabling justice reinvestment

Government plays a critical role in supporting the cultural authority of First Nations community leaders, along with implementing critical systems reform to enable and strengthen the outcomes of community-led, place-based justice reinvestment initiatives.

First Nations communities have been leading justice reinvestment initiatives around Australia for a decade. These communities have demonstrated positive improvements in a range of justice outcomes including reductions in offending, bail breaches and the time spent in custody. Improvements have also been shown in strengthening First Nations leadership structures, cross-sector collaboration and service delivery.

For instance, the video below was developed by young people in Mt Druitt. It gathers their stories, expertise, and lived experiences of the criminal justice system along with the impact it has on them and their families. This powerful film shows how justice reinvestment has made a difference to the young men and women of Mt Druitt and how elevating their calls for reform to the justice system into meaningful systems change could support better futures for not only them, but for young First Nations men and women across Australia.

Notwithstanding these positive changes the ‘success’ of justice reinvestment cannot be measured solely by population level shifts in data such as offending or imprisonment. The drivers of incarceration and various justice systems are more complex and interdependent with so many of the levers for change sitting outside the strengths and power of community.

This is why the long-term success and sustainability of justice reinvestment relies on the commitment of government and service providers to work in genuine partnership with communities. This includes to support First Nations leadership to drive place-based justice reinvestment initiatives along with the commitment to enact transformative systems change within service delivery, law and policy reform. Justice reinvestment is a long-term, continuous commitment for communities and government to work hand in hand towards a stronger, safer future. It is not an immediate solution, however, the stories of communities on their own justice reinvestment journeys highlights the promise of community-led justice reinvestment initiatives to achieve real and necessary change.

When speaking about the importance of systems change we must also recognise that ‘government’ itself refers to a complex and interconnected ecosystem of different agencies and departments spanning across local, state/territory and federal jurisdictions. This means momentous work is still required to strengthen community-government partnerships at each of these levels across their different agencies and departments. Success in this endeavor will take significant time and enduring commitment to implementing new ways of working as we establish the necessary inroads.

From a First Nations perspective, the cultural authorisation to undertake this journey comes from the wisdom, culture and expertise of our First Nations leaders across different communities. This includes our Elders, Traditional Owners and young people who have been coming together to advocate for this change for years. From a western perspective, authorisation can be sought from the mandate of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the commitments to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full and importantly from the federal government’s recent announcement of an ongoing commitment to support a community-led approach to justice reinvestment.

With the authorisation and mandate clear, it is now time to create these inroads as we undergo a landmark shift in how First Nations people and government work together to create stronger, safer futures for our young people.

The Australian Government’s commitment to justice reinvestment

Through the October 2022–23 Budget, the Australian Government committed $81.5 million to be invested in up to 30 justice reinvestment initiatives across the country. Over the next four years (2022-2025), this will include:

$69 million in grants funding to support place-based community-led justice reinvestment initiatives for up to 30 communities*

*From 2026-27 this will become an annual commitment of $20 million.

$12.5 million to establish an independent National Justice Reinvestment Unit to coordinate and support justice reinvestment initiatives at a national level*

*From 2026-27 this will become an annual commitment of $3.1 million.

In recognition of the role that states and territories have in justice outcomes, the Australian Government will also be seeking co-funding and data sharing arrangements as part of the national justice reinvestment program.

The government is also stepping beyond funding to work towards building and strengthening genuine community-government partnerships to ensure the voices of First Nations communities and experts are central to this process. They are working to achieve this by also delivering:

A national consultation process to co-design the National Justice Reinvestment Unit and Program*

*From February to August 2023.

Practical community-readiness support through an experienced First Nations partner*

*From March 2023 to March 2024.

The Australian Government has adopted this integrative approach to designing and delivering its national justice reinvestment funding package to support the immediate needs of community, whilst working to transform its long-term approach to funding and supporting place-based community-led initiatives through the justice reinvestment program.

This approach is summarised below:

National consultation and co-design process

In February national design consultations were launched to inform the design of the government’s National Justice Reinvestment Program and independent National Justice Reinvestment Unit. Now underway, these consultations aim to ensure all communities have an opportunity to apply for funding in an open and transparent way from July 2023.

The national co-design process invites First Nations communities and organisations, First Nations justice experts and non-government representatives to participate in community consultations and workshops. This process will also leverage the expertise of philanthropic and not-for-profit organisations, community groups and service providers, and continue collaboration with state and territory governments to ensure the government’s National Justice Reinvestment Program and independent National Justice Reinvestment Unit builds on best practice and First Nations expertise.

As the facilitation partner leading the national design consultations the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research-led design team have developed a key issues paper and community resource to guide consultation and co-design. The Justice Reinvestment Network Australia (JRNA) have also developed guiding principles to support this consultation process and the protection of First Nations Data Sovereignty. These documents are available below:

Some of the key questions being considered during the consultations and co-design include but are not limited to:

  • Eligibility criteria and mechanisms for enabling access to funding;
  • A First-Nations lens to evaluation of funding outcomes;
  • Protections for community and cultural authority; and
  • The purpose, functions, structure, governance, and location/s of a national unit.

Some of the key-deliverables from this process will include:

  • Community and stakeholder consultations (Feb – Apr)
  • Key findings report on the grants process (mid-May)
  • Development of internal and external community-readiness assessment tools (mid-May)
  • Key findings report on the national unit (early Aug)

Funding and practical support to communities

Understanding the difference between practical readiness support and grants funding

Alongside design consultations, the Government will also work with justice reinvestment and First Nations experts and leaders to provide readiness support to communities across Australia, ahead of the national grants program becoming available around July 2023. Practical readiness support and grants funding can be accessed separately or jointly to meet the unique needs of each community. The distinction between each is stepped out below:

Practical community-readiness support through an experienced First Nations partner*

*Communities can express their interest in receiving support from now until the end of April.

This process aims to address the immediate, short-term justice reinvestment needs of communities as they await the design and implementation of the national grants process. This opportunity will include access to flexible micro-funding along with strategic advice, training and relationship-building opportunities.

Grants funding *

*Communities can apply for grants funding from mid-2023.

This process aims to offer more-substantive funding implemented under a national grants process which seeks to embed the experiences, expertise and feedback from First Nations communities and justice experts shared during the national consultations.

Accessing practical readiness support

To support communities in preparing to access the national grants program, the Australian Government is partnering with the First Nations-led bodies Ninti One, JRNA and Jumbunna to deliver practical readiness support to First Nations communities interested in developing justice reinvestment. Each body comes with experience and expertise in partnering with urban, regional, remote and very remote First Nations communities to support them in developing community-led approaches to justice challenges.

To access this support First Nations communities are being invited to express their interest in receiving community readiness support from the JR partner team. The expression of interest process is open now until the end of April.

The type of support provided will differ from community to community and will be unique to each local context. It may include but is not limited to supporting:

  • Relationship-building and knowledge sharing to build awareness of justice reinvestment;  
  • Training and development opportunities for First Nations communities in key enabling areas for justice reinvestment (e.g., grants writing, governance, facilitation, advocacy, communications);
  • The development of justice reinvestment plans, strategies and priorities for each local context;
  • Recruitment of a local First Nations JR lead on a casual basis; and
  • Access to a small amount of flexible funds e.g. financial support to host community workshops.

Ultimately each community will be able to identify and prioritise the types of support they would like to receive. The JR partner team will then work directly with community to implement practical support in those area(s).

Expressions of interest received will be selected based on the following principles.

  • First Nations community leaders are coming together and authorising change.
  • Current and/or emerging community consensus that a new approach to justice is urgently needed.
  • Strong interest and/or existing knowledge of the principles and practices of justice reinvestment.
  • Evidence of community buy-in and/or readiness to work in partnership – noting:
    • This may include evidence of collaborations or willingness to collaborate, potentially with/between other local initiatives, First Nations leaders, youth leaders, local organisations, service providers and/or government.
    • o The panel does not expect a community to be immune from politics or differing opinions, but rather is interested in communities that can demonstrate a willingness to come together despite these differences.
  • Whether or not there has been prior funding for other similar place-based, community-led initiatives – noting:
    • This aims to ensure that short-term capacity building support is provided to those communities who need it the most, to enable their participation in the national grants process.
  • Communities that would facilitate a wide national spread of justice reinvestment sites – including.
    • Selecting communities across different states and territories.
    • Prioritising a greater number of communities in jurisdictions without a JR peak body (Qld, NT, ACT, Vic, and Tas).
    • Prioritising emerging JR sites in jurisdictions with a JR peak or supporting body (NSW, WA, SA) and leveraging opportunities to partner with the local JR peak to provide support to these communities.

The expression of interest process is open now until the end of April.

Please complete the below form and return to Alternatively, reach out for a yarn and the team can document your communities expression of interest.

If you are interested in learning more about the process for expressing interest in community readiness support, please refer to the FAQ document below or contact

Accessing grants funding

Access to funding under the national grants program aims to meet the financial needs of communities seeking to progress justice reinvestment. Although the exact scope of what will be funded under the national grants program will be informed by the national consultation and co-design process it is likely to include funding of ‘backbone’ or similar organisations to play a coordinating role in bringing together different activities, people and organisations leading justice reinvestment, along with activity-based funding in key enabling areas such as data work, communications, learning opportunities, community events or projects. Communities accessing funding under the national grants program will not be required to work with the JR partner.

The national grants process aims to transform the Australian Government’s long-term approach to funding and supporting place-based community-led initiatives and can be accessed with or without practical community readiness support from the JR partner.

The key recommendations from the national consultation and co-design process are due to be released in mid-May 2023. With delivery of the first round of the national grants process from July 2023.

Further updates on the national grants process will be provided soon.

The role of the Independent Justice Reinvestment National Unit

The key findings report on the design of the national unit is due to be tabled in August 2023. The recommendations of this report will be used to inform the design and establishment an independent National Justice Reinvestment Unit to coordinate and support justice reinvestment initiatives at a national level.

Further updates on the independent national unit will be provided as the co-design process progresses.