Policy report

Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja: Victorian Aboriginal justice agreement - phase 4

A partnership between the Victorian government and Aboriginal community
Aboriginal Australians legal status and laws Criminal justice Legal services Self-determination Victoria

The Victorian AJA is a long-term partnership between the Aboriginal community and the Victorian Government. The signatories of the Agreement are committed to working together to improve Aboriginal justice outcomes, family and community safety, and reduce over-representation in the Victorian criminal justice system.

Key Findings:

  • The Victorian Government is committed to self-determination as the guiding principle in Aboriginal affairs, and government heard directly from Victorian Aboriginal communities about their desire for greater self-determination within the justice system.
  • The Victorian Government’s work on self-determination is guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which defines self-determination as a range of collective rights to determine one’s political status and economic, social and cultural development.
  • Embedding self-determination in the core business of justice agencies requires change in order to transfer power, decision-making and resources to the Aboriginal community.
  • Successful programs employ Aboriginal staff who are known in the community, respected and trusted by program participants, highly motivated, welltrained, and skilled at providing cultural support to clients. These workers ‘walk between the two worlds’ of community and government and act as a mediator and sometimes translator for both. Successful programs resource workers adequately and provide supports to manage cultural loads and vicarious trauma.

In developing Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja, the Aboriginal Justice Caucus’ long-term aspiration for selfdetermination within the justice system could eventually see the Aboriginal community set the agenda in relation to providing a culturally-responsive justice system for Aboriginal people. The Victorian Government acknowledges that “Aboriginal people in Victoria are the people best placed to know what works when it comes to achieving better outcomes for their own communities”.

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