The National Indigenous Law and Justice Framework was developed by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) as a national approach to address serious and complex issues that exist for Indigenous Australians and the criminal justice system. The Framework is intended to support the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) agenda to Close the Gap in Indigenous disadvantage, particularly in relation to community safety and will be instrumental in achieving COAG objectives.

The Framework seeks to build a sustainable whole-of-government and community partnership approach to law and justice issues to reduce the evident levels of disadvantage that are directly related to adverse contact with the justice systems. The Framework does not set out to prescribe strategies or actions to be adopted by governments or service providers. Rather it articulates an agreed good practice approach, based on available evidence, that provides government agencies and service providers with a framework from which to identify the most appropriate responses to specific issues at the local, regional, state or territory level. The Framework draws on existing State and Territory instruments such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice agreements. SCAG is also considering some multijurisdictional project and research work under the Framework. 

Key Findings:

  • Strengthening the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to maintain not simply functional but thriving communities, healthy families and individual wellbeing is crucial to improving justice outcomes.
  • Sustained improvements in law and justice outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can be achieved only if all stakeholders, including Indigenous people and communities, governments, service providers, and the corporate sector, build and maintain an effective holistic response to the underlying factors bringing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples into adverse contact with the criminal justice system.
  • Justice agencies, working together and in concert with other agencies, must therefore seek and act on opportunities to contribute to the social, economic and cultural resilience of Indigenous communities.
  • To address the issue of alcohol and other substance abuse, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must be active partners in the development, implementation and evaluation of policies and programs relating to substance abuse in their communities.

By building relationships based on respect, commitment and responsibility, as well as a preparedness to look at and implement innovative and sound responses, these outcomes can be improved. Indeed without significant and sustained improvements in law and justice outcomes for Indigenous people, particularly family and community safety, it is difficult to see how improvements in the other Closing the Gap targets can be achieved or maintained.

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