Results so far
An Aboriginal Justice Agreement Reference Committee is guiding the development of a governance framework for the Aboriginal Justice Agreement.
Sixteen members of this Committee come from peak body organisations, community non-government organisations and local government. Other members may be appointed on an as needed basis.
The Aboriginal Justice Unit has developed projects to start before the Agreement is finalised to ensure that the Agreement not a simply a static document.
Alternatives to prison
One is the alternatives to custody/prison (ATP) model that has received funding from the NT Government to be delivered into two locations in the NT – Alice Springs and East Arnhem Land.
The model based in Alice Springs will house Aboriginal women who are prisoners or at risk of entering the justice system. Another ATP facility that will specifically cater for men and male youths is underway for the East Arnhem region. Many NT Aboriginal communities have a strong interest in establishing alternatives to prison in other locations. These are being considered in consultation with communities, but these are yet to be further developed into project plans.
Law and justice groups
In the interim, the establishment of law and justice groups, that are gender balanced, and that represent the entire community are the starting point of many Aboriginal communities to re-assert their cultural authority and display leadership.
Maningrida is one of the first communities to reinvigorate its law and justice group. They have met AGD and other NTG agencies including the NT Police several times to discuss law and safety matters.
Police stations have started a culturally competent process that provides an out of office messaging system in 15 major Aboriginal communities. Messages are being interpreted into the local language to ensure Aboriginal people can navigate through the system and receive an adequate response for day to day matters.
Justices of the Peace
We are progressing towards increasing the number of Aboriginal Justices of the Peace in the NT. Progress is also being made on service delivery model of births, death and marriages register in remote communities that includes a capacity for clients to access and make wills under the Public Trustee.
Since we started community engagement in July 2017, we have done more than 100 consultations across the NT including:
- remote and very remote communities
- correctional centres
- major peak Aboriginal bodies such as Aboriginal peak organisations, the Northern Land Council, Central Land Council, Anindilyakwa Land Council
- NT show circuits in 2017 and 2018
- Other major forums and event including NT Aboriginal public service forums
- Elders Visiting Program workshops organised by NT Correctional Services.
AGD’s Chief Executive Officer or our Deputy Chief Executive Officer have attended many of these consultations.
Issues in consultations
We have discussed many issues that impact on an Aboriginal person’s relationship with the justice system, whether this be as a witness, victim, offender or user of the justice system. Interest and participation from all Territorians has been intense.
People have highlighted to us they prefer place-based models that suit the NT’s demographics and specific geographic features. They have also wanted to discuss how communities can partner with NTG to achieve the aims of the NTAJA.
Themes that continue to emerge from these consults include the need to:
- adequately assess clients to access culturally competent and appropriate rehabilitation and other programs
- address criminogenic behaviours to prevent re-offending
- ensure that the model engages the entire family unit
- re-establish community courts and alternatives to prison models that include the establishment of cultural camps
- change legislation including alcohol law reform and sentencing reforms
- support leadership in communities that include the support of Aboriginal roles models, usually grandparents who are non-drinkers
- intervene early for those at risk of negative contact with the justice system
- develop for Aboriginal people the capacity to access, navigate and participate as a general user of government services, inside and outside of the justice portfolio that include access to wills and the Public Trustee.
All the issues captured from the consultations will inform the content of the draft Aboriginal Justice Agreement.
We will further consult NT communities to confirm and clarify the content, outcomes, accountabilities and partnering arrangements that we need to drive the Agreement.
The Aboriginal Justice Unit continues to progress the Agreement through consultations with Aboriginal communities, regional centres and government agencies across the NT to meet our deadline of a final document mid-2019.
Last updated: 12 April 2019