Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has welcomed the ACT Government’s announcement this week of a new trial aimed at reducing rates of incarceration among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“This announcement demonstrates the ACT Government is taking real action to tackle high rates of Indigenous incarceration,” Minister Scullion said.
During the 12-month trial, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service will work with families to design tailored plans encompassing health, housing and education needs to reduce recidivism.
“The criminal justice system is primarily the responsibility of state and territory governments and as such, it’s great to see the ACT Government taking the lead and delivering justice reinvestment initiatives,” Minister Scullion said.
“This approach complements the federal Coalition Government’s strong investment in local activities aimed at reducing victimisation, offending and reoffending in order to lower incarceration rates and improve community safety.”
The Coalition Government currently invests close to $1 million annually in the ACT to reduce Indigenous incarceration by addressing substance misuse and through programmes to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
This is part of a $257 million nationwide commitment to improve safety and wellbeing through activities that include youth crime prevention and diversion and Prisoner Throughcare services.
“We will work with the ACT Government to ensure that our existing investment complements and supports its approach. I look forward to seeing the results of the trial, and hope the evidence collected can inform the development of similar, innovative approaches in other states and territories,” Minister Scullion said.
The ACT trial aligns with the findings of the 2016 Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Prison to Work Report that highlighted how all governments can do better to help Indigenous people transition from prison to employment.
The Commonwealth and other jurisdictions will report on planned actions in relation to the Prison to Work Report at the upcoming COAG meeting in June.