Bourke community approach lowers crime rate
Since the beginning of 2016 there seems to have been a renewed wave of energy around the crisis facing Australia and the rate at which its young Indigenous people are imprisoned. Just days before Australia Day journalist Stan Grant’s speech at the IQ2 Racism debate went viral on social media with 1.4million people from around the world hearing the appalling fact that “an indigenous child is more likely to be locked up in prison than to finish high school.” In February when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made his ‘Closing the Gap’ statement, he said “When young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men see jail as a rite of passage, we have failed to give them a place in society, in our community, and an alternative pathway where they can thrive. We have to be agile and we have to allow for new approaches.”
Yet while the voices bringing awareness to the problem are gaining traction, the Maranguka Justice Reinvestment approach in Bourke is starting to show great promise.
This year a Summer Holiday Program in Bourke saw the rates of malicious damage and domestic violence drop to the lowest they have been in five years. These promising results are thanks to the combined efforts of police, community, the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, Maranguka, Bourke Shire Council and Youth Off The Streets who worked together to support young people in the community.
On another front the community’s strategy for reducing the number of young people held in custody for breach of bail has also been developed by Just Reinvest NSW in partnership with the Bourke Police and Maranguka. Police protocols around bail have been developed to guide the way police exercise their discretion around bail. The next step is for Maranguka to communicate these protocols to community members, and talk about the importance of supporting young people to comply with bail conditions.
Just Reinvest NSW has also recently launched a justice reinvestment calculator on their website that sources data describing local health, employment, income, and housing rates. It also shows the number of a community’s local people that are going to prison, and how much it is costing to send them there. You can explore the calculator here.
This tool can be used to provide other communities with the data they need to explore their own justice reinvestment opportunities.
To find out more about Bourke and the incredible work being done by that community visit http://www.justreinvest.org.au/news/.