Additional funding to curb Indigenous incarceration rates in Central Australia

Release Date: 
19 March 2019
Media release

The Australian Government will provide $2.3 million in funding to reduce recidivism and incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners in Central Australia.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said the funding would support the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) to deliver throughcare services for at least another three years.

Throughcare projects provide comprehensive case management for prisoners in the lead up to their release from prison and during their transition to life outside.

Minister Scullion said the NAAJA would continue operating the vital services at the Alice Springs Correctional Centre and the Barkly Work Camps to stop Indigenous inmates from returning to jail.

“The Australian Government is committed to reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people in the justice system,” Minister Scullion said.

“This over-representation has devastating effects on the lives of Indigenous people, their families, and their communities, which is why the work of the NAAJA is so important.

“NAAJA has been delivering much-needed legal services in the area since January 2018 and, with the Australian Government’s backing, will continue to provide targeted, holistic and intensive support.

Today’s announcement complements the Government’s existing investment of $245 million to curb the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system.

CLP Candidate for Lingiari Jacinta Nampijinpa Price said the NAAJA’s services were designed to support rehabilitation and address the underlying causes of offending behaviour.

“There are many reasons why people reoffended and end up back behind bars including unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse and poor community engagement,” Ms Price said.

“The NAAJA’s program assists participants with all of their identified transitional needs including housing, employment, training, ongoing therapeutic support and life skills development.

“Importantly, it is delivered by Central Australians who understand the particular challenges faced by Indigenous people leaving prison in that region.”

The NAAJA has provided culturally appropriate legal services in the Northern Territory for over 40 years and began delivering throughcare programs in 2010. In that time, it has supported 912 clients with less than 13 per cent of those people returning to prison.