In 2017 the Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General (DJAG) and Youth Justice consulted with community members, organisations and stakeholders in Cherbourg on whether and how different strategies of justice reinvestment (JR) could and should be implemented locally. This process was multilayered and began with providing community and stakeholders with information on different models of JR. Feedback was then sought —through interviews, surveys and community foras —to gauge, firstly, levels of community support for JR in principle and, secondly, community perspectives and input on what local governance, participation in, and longer term implementation of, JR might look like. Statistical information was also collected from justice agencies to identify levels of community support for JR and details related to incarceration, including its current cost to government and rates of return to prison.
A Project Steering Group was established to guide the consultation process, building local Indigenous governance around the possible implementation of JR, as well as important partnerships between Indigenous community, government and other key stakeholders going forward. Regular consultation and advice was sought and received from Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council on how best to implement a JR framework within community, including how to best engage community participation in this initial consultation process.
The consultations identified a strong level of community and stakeholder support for the introduction of models of JR in Cherbourg. Nearly three quarters of those surveyed indicated support and all Cherbourg community members consulted directly supported its introduction. Integral to the appeal of JR for community participants was its focus on improving the lives of younger community members and the benefit it would bring to the community as a whole. Feedback on the local impact of incarceration mostly revolved around its ineffectiveness to reduce, and its tendency to increase, criminal behaviour. In contrast, strong community leadership and strong families were the areas most commonly identified as existing strengths of Cherbourg likely to help reduce imprisonment.
The overwhelming message conveyed and received through this consultation process was that Cherbourg as a community needs to lead locally implemented JR initiatives. The consultation process identified the strong capability of the community in Cherbourg to do so, acknowledging that more work is required to ensure that the extensive effort required to implement JR will be forthcoming.
A comprehensive report, endorsed by Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council, and providing background to, findings and recommendations of, the Cherbourg consultation process can be accessed here.
As of September 2018, the Queensland Government was considering implementation options, project expansion and the governance required for a whole of government initiative.
Details of the Queensland Government’s strategic policy on JR are available here via the Queensland Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women website.