Federal budget: Labor funds more of the same and expects different outcomes for youth incarceration


Labor’s third federal budget has failed to provide desperately needed funding for justice reinvestment programmes and youth diversionary programmes that successfully keep young people out of the criminal justice system.

Instead of funding programmes that support young people at risk of being criminalised and see them change the direction of their lives, the government has committed to building and expanding prisons to incarcerate children once they’ve already gone down this path.

The Labor government has missed an opportunity to address the root causes of youth crime, and has instead chosen to continue funding systems of policing and incarceration that are known to only exacerbate harm to young people, their families and their communities and set young people on a trajectory of trauma, disenfranchisement and reoffending.

In response to announcements made in the Federal Budget, Gomeroi Woman and Amnesty International Indigenous Rights Campaigner Kacey Teerman says,

“Amnesty International is beyond disappointed with the lack of leadership by the Labor Government in failing to provide additional funding for Justice Reinvestment.”

“Amnesty International Australia has been lobbying for an increase to the 2022-23 justice reinvestment package of $81.5 million, and we were hopeful that the federal government would lead the states and territories by adequately funding these desperately needed services, which would help keep children out of jail.”

“This federal budget demonstrates a misguided prioritisation of resources. It is particularly disheartening to see the government boast a budget surplus while it refuses to fund alternatives to carceral systems that actually address the root causes of crime.”

“It is unnecessary and counterproductive to pour funds into an outdated system that perpetuates a cycle of incarceration, especially when viable alternatives such as justice reinvestment and community-based initiatives offer more effective and humane solutions.”

Uncle Rodney Dillon, Palawa Elder and Amnesty International Indigenous Rights Advisor says,

“By failing to fund justice reinvestment, they are guaranteeing the need to put more money into expanding and building bigger jails. Preventative work needs to take precedence. We know that justice reinvestment is the way forward.”

“Amnesty International Australia will continue to work alongside First Nations to secure key reforms and much-needed federal funding from the Albanese government.”

Amnesty International welcomes the desperately needed funding for housing, particularly in the Northern Territory, as well as the allocation towards education across the country and health funding aimed at closing the gap. These investments are crucial steps towards building stronger communities and addressing long standing inequalities.


In a submission to the Treasury in the lead up to the budget, Amnesty International Australia called on the government to continue funding justice investment initiatives across the country and the national body to coordinate these initiatives. Given the grossly disproportionate

incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, it is crucial that an Australian model of Justice Reinvestment centres on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and expertise at every level.

Amnesty International Australia has also called on the Government to provide resources for federal and all state and territory governments to fully implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. In particular, to continue its resourcing of a consolidated real-time reporting of all deaths in custody at a national level.

Amnesty International Australia has also called on the Government to commit funding to existing and new initiatives to meet Closing the Gap targets, particularly in relation to the disproportionate rates of incarceration, suicide, violence against women and children and removal of children into protection services.

In order to meet Australia’s obligations under international law, Amnesty International has urged the Government to commit to ensuring the implementation of OPCAT is adequately resourced across all jurisdictions as a matter of urgency.