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Invest in people not prisons: LCA

user iconFelicity Nelson 13 July 2015 NewLaw

With NAIDOC Week wrapping up, the Law Council of Australia (LCA) has called for governments to “break the cycle” of imprisonment in indigenous communities.

National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week, which runs from 5 to 12 July, celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievement.

Stuart Clark, LCA president elect, said NAIDOC week was a good time to promote the development of programs that use money that would otherwise be invested into prisons to address the underlying causes of crime.

These ‘Justice Reinvestment’ initiatives have already been launched in a number of communities.

“There is some terrific work being done in Aboriginal communities in Australia on expanding this revolutionary idea of Justice Reinvestment,” Mr Clark said.

“For example, Bourke’s ‘Just Reinvest’ team has been working tirelessly to show their local corporate and government sectors that Justice Reinvestment will work and is a worthy effort.

“And in South Australia, concerted advocacy efforts from the indigenous community have resulted in the state government committing to announcing Justice Reinvestment trials in two separate locations.

“It’s time that Australia really started getting serious about this idea on a national level.”

Mr Clark said that NAIDOC Week was a time to celebrate the diversity and potential of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“The giant steps I see being made on innovative concepts like Justice Reinvestment fit perfectly within that spectrum.”

“We need to break the cycle of those who get incarcerated, and then released back into problematic communities, only to be locked up again.

“We can’t just keep spending more and more money on the jail section of the cycle and expect to improve lives. We need to shift some of those resources back into the community.'

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