Justice Reinvestment in Australia: Government Publications

A timeline of submissions to government advocating for Justice Reinvestment is also available on our Justice Reinvestment page.

Australian Law Reform Commission Publications


Incarceration Rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Discussion Paper 84 (2017)

In this chapter the ALRC acknowledges the growing area of ‘justice reinvestment’, with particular reference to the initiative in Bourke, New South Wales (NSW). It also refers to the 2013 report of the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Value of a Justice Reinvestment Approach to Criminal Justice in Australia and the 2016 report of the Senate Standing Committees on Finance and Public Administration, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Experience of Law Enforcement and Justice Services, both of which supported justice reinvestment approaches to some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The ALRC asks if any further reforms to laws and legal frameworks are required to facilitate justice reinvestment initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

(open access) via Austlii

Pathways to Justice – An Inquiry into the Incarceration Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Final Report 133 (2017)

Justice reinvestment uses place-based, community led initiatives to address offending and incarceration, using a distinct data-driven methodology to inform strategies for reform. There has been strong support in Australia for taking a justice reinvestment approach to addressing the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration over a number of years, and justice reinvestment has been used overseas, particularly in some parts of the United States, to reduce criminal justice spending and to strengthen communities.

(open access) via Australian Law Reform Commission

Australian Human Rights Commission Publications


Social Justice Report

Final Report (2009)

In accordance with the functions set out in section 46C(1)(a) of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth), this report includes 4 recommendations on justice reinvestment to reduce Indigenous over-representation in the criminal justice system, 7 recommendations for the protection of Indigenous languages and 1 recommendation for sustaining Aboriginal homeland communities.

(open access) via Australian Human Rights Commission

People with mental health disorders and cognitive impairment in the criminal justice system: Cost-benefit analysis of early support and diversion

Final Report (2013)

Research in the field and the case studies presented in this paper demonstrate that early holistic support is crucial for the development and well-being of children and young people with mental health disorders and cognitive impairment, particularly Aboriginal children and young people and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Without such early intervention and diversion, the costs to individuals with mental health disorders and cognitive impairment, to their families and communities, as well as the costs to government can be extremely high.

(open access) via Australian Human Rights Commission

Social Justice and Native Title Report

Final Report (2014)

It is not necessarily detrimental that advocates in Australia are already trying to adapt justice reinvestment for the Australian context. What works in the United States can be a powerful catalyst for action, but will require thoughtful adaptation to the Australian context. Nonetheless, if the Australian brand of justice reinvestment strays too far from the evidence we may lose some of the strength of this approach. There is now a growing body of literature on justice reinvestment, so this chapter will only briefly summarise some of the key principles and processes of justice reinvestment to provide clarity and context.

(open access) via Australian Human Rights Commission


QUT Indigenous Law and Justice Dinner

Mick Gooda (2013)

Justice reinvestment is essentially about investing our resources at front end, to prevent crime, rather than the back end, in prisons.

This focus on early intervention is not new. However, justice reinvestment is different because it invests early intervention services in specific communities where there is the greatest need. Most importantly it is done with the communities contributing to how these funds are spent to prevent crime.

(open access) via Australian Human Rights Commission

Will Justice Reinvestment solve Western Australia’s crisis in Aboriginal incarceration?

Mick Gooda (2013)

It is interesting to draw similarities between some of these states and Western Australia. Prison overcrowding and escalating imprisonment and capital costs is often what brought many of these States to the idea of justice reinvestment. To me, the situation in Western Australia is very similar. I’ve already mentioned the over crowding and funding challenges facing Western Australia.

But many of these states also have similar levels of ‘tough on crime’ legislation, policy and rhetoric as Western Australia. In the interests of fiscal responsibility, even the ‘wild west’ of Texas was able to let rationality rule over the fear based ‘law and order’ politics.

The evidence on justice reinvestment from the United States is great but what really interests me is how we can make it work for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

(open access) via Australian Human Rights Commission

Justice Reinvestment: Accountability in Action

Mick Gooda (2013)

Justice Reinvestment is a policy which is built on effective participation and self-determination to improve our lives and the well-being of our communities by diverting our people away from jails and from the criminal justice system to community-led development programs.

Advocates like me have been arguing for justice reinvestment since 2009.

Justice reinvestment is also gaining a lot of support in the legal fraternity.

(open access) via Australian Human Rights Commission

Policing Partnerships: How Justice Reinvestment works with Aboriginal communities

Mick Gooda (2013)

Even successful programs like Clean Slate – that has contributed to an 80% reduction in robberies by juvenile offenders in Redfern – face challenges in securing long term funding. Justice reinvestment would support programs like this, providing long term funding for evidence-based programs that support community aspirations.

It is still early days for the process in Bourke but the community is working really well to get organised and think about how they can make a safer community. It is my hope that if we can support Bourke to do this, we will have a model that will speak for itself in its ability to reduce imprisonment, reduce costs and empower the community.

(open access) via Australian Human Rights Commission

The necessity of justice reinvestment

Mick Gooda (2012)

For justice reinvestment to be broadly successful, it requires bipartisan support, and the support of State and Territory Governments. It requires an agreement from both sides on the urgency of reducing imprisonment, based on both their fiscal and social responsibility.

As I have outlined above, success also requires partnerships, better relationships and government departments working together. For example, a pilot program would probably need the cooperation of the Courts, Police, Juvenile Justice or Corrections, Community Services, Health, as well as NGOs and of course the community.

The battle to implement justice reinvestment in Australia is being fought but more needs to be done to achieve these targets.

(open access) via Australian Human Rights Commission

Campaign for Justice Reinvestment for Aboriginal Young People

Mick Gooda (2012)

The Justice Reinvestment for Aboriginal Young People Campaign is calling on the NSW Government to shift policy and spending away from incarceration towards prevention, early intervention and treatment for Aboriginal young people. The Campaign is calling on the NSW Government to

1) adopt a policy of justice reinvestment, and

2) establish an independent Justice Reinvestment Advisory Group to oversee the implementation of justice reinvestment and monitor outcomes for Aboriginal young people.

This Campaign brings together a coalition of like-minded people and organisations in support of justice reinvestment.

(open access) via Australian Human Rights Commission


Submission to the Legal and Consitutional Affairs Committee Inquiry into the Value of a justice Reinvestment Approach

Australian Human Rights Commission (2013)

The success of justice reinvestment in Australia relies on a cooperative relationship between the Australian Government and the states and territories. Although the states and territories have primary responsibility for criminal justice there are opportunities for the Australian Government to encourage and support justice reinvestment. The Australian Government has two distinct roles to play in implementing justice reinvestment.

Firstly, the Australian Government, with the states and territories, can set a policy landscape that moves away from imprisonment and towards diversion and crime prevention.

Secondly, the Australian Government can provide the necessary support to establish trials of justice reinvestment in conjunction with the states and territories and local communities.

(open access) via Australian Human Rights Commission


Justice Reinvestment in Australia: A Review of the Literature

Matthew Willis and Madeleine Kapira

Australian Institute of Criminology (2018)

Justice reinvestment (JR) is an emerging field in the Australian criminal justice landscape. It is a data-driven approach to reducing criminal justice system expenditure and improving criminal justice system outcomes through reductions in imprisonment and offending. JR is a comprehensive strategy that employs targeted, evidence-based interventions to achieve cost savings which can be reinvested into delivering further improvements in social and criminal justice outcomes. However, there is no single definition of JR, and the effective development and implementation of JR strategies involve an evidence-based understanding of the local contexts, circumstances and needs that impact on involvement in the criminal justice system.

(open access) via the Australian Institute of Criminology

Value of a justice reinvestment approach to criminal justice in Australia

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee (2013)

The benefits of justice reinvestment to address the over-representation of Indigenous people in prisons was highlighted by many submitters. Mission Australia commented that justice reinvestment ‘provides a practical, meaningful and effective way to address the extreme yet increasing over-representation of Aboriginal Australians in custody, particularly young Aboriginal Australians’.

Juvenile justice was another area where a justice reinvestment approach was seen as being particularly beneficial. As noted in chapter 3, there has been a substantial increase in the remand of young people and a steady increase in the incarceration of young people. This comes at a huge cost for governments and the community. Incarceration costs are high: the cost of keeping a young person in custody in NSW was $652 per day in 2011. In contrast, the cost of community-based supervision in Victoria was just $52 per day. The social costs include loss of employment, low educational attainment, family breakdown and homelessness.

(open access) via Australian Human Rights Commission

Justice Reinvestment

Lenny Roth

New South Wales Parliamentary Research Service (2016)

Justice reinvestment is based on the premise that imprisonment is an expensive and largely ineffective way of reducing crime. Different versions of the concept have emerged but the original idea in the United States was that funding for prisons should be reduced and redirected towards addressing the underlying causes of crime in communities with high levels of incarceration. Over the last decade, many State governments in the United States have introduced a justice reinvestment policy. The United Kingdom Government has also conducted some pilot justice reinvestment projects at the local council level.

(open access) via the Parliament of New South Wales website

Justice Reinvestment Strategy

ACT Justice and Community Safety Directorate (2017)

A range of activities progressed the Building Communities Not Prisons initiative including strengthening of the Warrumbul Circle Sentencing Court to provide culturally relevant sentencing options for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, and continuing the ACT Bail Support Program to reduce the number of people on remand through an ongoing Coordinator & Cultural Advisor role.

(open access) via ACT Justice