As a result of increased advocacy for justice reinvestment in recent years, the Australian Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee is conducting an Inquiry into the value of a justice reinvestment approach to criminal justice in Australia. The Australian Human Rights Commission’s former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Dr Tom Calma, was one of the first proponents of the justice reinvestment approach in Australia in the Social Justice Report 2009. Since then advocacy for justice reinvestment has been building and a number of authoritative reports have made recommendations about justice reinvestment. However, we are still waiting for governments to take action.
This article will examine the applications for justice reinvestment in Australia, primarily in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, although some consideration has also been given to vulnerable groups including juvenile offenders, people with cognitive impairment, people with psychosocial disability and hearing impairment. In particular, given that justice issues are largely the responsibility of states and territories, this article examines ways in which the federal government could support and encourage justice reinvestment approaches through Council of Australian Governments (‘COAG’) mechanisms.