We Are Calling For a Better Justice System For All Of Us


We do better at keeping Aboriginal people in prison than at school
— Mick Gooda

When we are doing better at keeping people behind bars than at school then we have a problem. It’s time for us to demand we take a national approach to address the over representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in jail. We want to see a better use of money to create a smarter and safer approach to justice issues.

We are calling this our campaign for Justice Reinvestment.


Together with the National Justice Coalition we launched a campaign in 2015 that calls for a rethink of how we spend our justice dollars to move away from locking people up and forgetting about them towards better outcomes that address real injustices and break the cycle of disadvantage for First Peoples. To do this we need to take a whole of society approach to fix the broken justice system we have and build the justice system we all deserve.


Indigenous Imprisonment Rates

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics


Why Is Jailing Failing?

On average it costs $114,831 a year to lockup an adult but only $18,385 to divert an offender to a residential rehabilitation program. For the amount of money we spend to keep just one person in jail for a year, we can rehabilitate six people into the community and divert them from a cycle of crime and disadvantage.

Jail does not address the causes of crime, just the symptoms. Jailing devastating individuals and their families and lands people with life long criminal records for something as petty and trivial as an unpaid fine.  

That's not fair, it's not just, it's not justice.

We believe that generations of institutional and structured racism, low literacy levels and poor health outcomes are the underlying causes of crime.  To reduce crime rates these we need to address these causes.  By addressing issues of race, education and health we not only reduce crime but we improve society for all of us.

Justice reinvestment is a campaign for all of us. Not only that but a smarter justice system will save large amounts of tax-payer money. The length and cost of incarcerating Aboriginal adults, juveniles and even kids, for petty crimes or parole violations is shocking.  

It costs approximate $26 a day to have an offender in a rehabilitation program in the community but a whopping $260 per day to keep them in jail.  It would me slightly cheaper to put every prisoner in a five star hotel for the rest of their sentence!


Costs Per Day

Source: Department of Corrections, Westin Hotel Melbourne

Australian Population

Source: Law Council of Australia

Prison Population

Source: Law Council of Australia


What does this reinvestment look like? We think we need to start by implement justice targets and better rehabilitation, good remand policies, better policing, and clearer and fairer sentencing guidelines.

We need your support, we know the government is listening to us but we need to do more so they can no longer ignore us.  Can you support our campaigns and help us build a better justice system?

With your donations we have:

  1. Hosted a forum to educate people on justice reinvestment in Richmond.  If you missed out you can download the audio here.
  2. Hosted a forum on justice issues in the courts with a sitting member of the judiciary.
  3. Hosted an event to teach our members about disability and justice issues. If you missed out you can download the audio here.
  4. We've lobbied politicians at all levels to sit up and pay attention- and they're listening. The Victorian Government announced in December 2015 they are moving to ensuring First Peoples have a bigger say in government policies that affect them like in health, wellbeing and justice issues.
  5. We're even building an educational tool to show visitors and locals alike the history of Aboriginal law and justice issues that they didn't even know existed right under their feet.  For more information and to find out how you can take part click here.

We won't rest until government and community leaders begin diverting the money we spend in jailing people and throwing away the key into programs that build communities.  

Doing this is smarter, safer and better for all of us.


Take Action Now

Email the Ministers Responsible

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Write your letter to the ministers responsible for Aboriginal affairs and law at a federal and state level. A short, heartfelt and personal message is always best.

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