Between 2013 and 2016, the community of Cowra was asked how they would like money that is current spent on incarcerating their citizens — in particular, their youth — reinvested back into the community. This whole-of-community research consultation was carried out under the auspices of an Australian Research Council grant, aptly named ‘Exploring the Potential of Justice Reinvestment in Cowra’. Originally conceived to test the research methodology and theory of Justice Reinvestment (JR), this research was conducted by a team from the Australian National University, the University of New South Wales and others and guided by a reference group of representatives from the Cowra Aboriginal Land Council, Cowra Shire Council as well as local and international experts.
Sixty-two young people participated in focus groups, 14 young people in individual face-to-face interviews, and four parents and 32 service providers in focus groups or interviews. Four Community forums were also held. All forums and interviews explored the concepts of JR and its possibilities for implementation within the local community.
This consultation process culminated in series of community decisions on how funds currently invested in incarceration might be better reinvested in community programmes and initiatives. It also led to Cowra Shire Council passing a Resolution to advocate the merits of JR to policymakers and funders and seek intergovernmental collaboration to establish a JR pilot in Cowra.
Details of the participatory framework, aims, design and outcomes of these consultations, are comprehensively documented here in a final report published by the Australian National University.
Cowra Site Updates March – June 2019
The Cowra site remains in a holding pattern.