The Circle Sentencing program will be expanded to include Broken Hill as part of the new 20 million dollar funding package announced on Monday, July 18 by the NSW government.
Circle Sentencing is an alternative sentencing method in which a Local Court Magistrate works with Aboriginal Elders, victims, respected members of the community and the offender’s family to determine an appropriate sentence.
Other Local Courts to receive Circle Sentencing include Penrith, Campbelltown, Wollongong, Wagga Wagga, Batemans Bay and Waverley.
Attorney General Mark Speakman said the overall package includes the Youth Koori Court expansions, Circle Sentencing in the Local Court, and the Justice Reinvestment program.
“The NSW Government is committed to working closely and collaboratively with Aboriginal communities to address disproportionate rates of Aboriginal incarceration,” Mr Speakman said.
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Franklin said investing in these programs will enhance the NSW Government’s commitment to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
The 20 million dollars will include $5.8 million to expand the Youth Koori Court to the Children’s Court at Dubbo and to provide more funding for Aboriginal Legal Services, Legal Aid NSW and a specialist Children’s Magistrate to oversee the Youth Koori Courts including at Surry Hills and Parramatta.
There will also be $4.2 million to expand the Circle Sentencing program from 12 to 20 high-priority Local Court locations as well as $9.8 million for new Justice Reinvestment pilots, which aim to divert people away from the criminal justice system by investing in evidence-based community-led initiatives that address the underlying causes of crime, with a focus on Aboriginal people.
A Justice Reinvestment pilot is presently operating in Bourke.