© Ingetje Tadros / AI. Two young Indigenous children playing on a verandah

New Approach to Justice in WA Launched

The Social Reinvestment WA campaign was launched today, outlining a new approach to justice in Western Australia that would promote community safety, social wellbeing and inclusive justice for all people.

A coalition of organisations, including Amnesty International, Social Reinvestment WA is the leading advocate in tackling the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the criminal justice system.

‘Tough On Crime’ approach does not make community safer

“The current ‘tough on crime’ approach is based on the false claim that it makes our community safer,” said Daniel Morrison, Social Reinvestment WA co-chair.

“WA imprisons over 6,000 people a year and yet crime rates have increased. Imprisoning people in such massive numbers is doing nothing to make communities safer.

“The only way to reduce crime is to address social and economic disadvantage, which we know is the main cause of offending. We need to be tough on the causes of crime, and tackle the underlying causes of offending.”

“It costs an average of $334 per day to imprison an adult, but just $46 a day to supervise an adult in the community. Community approaches are not only more effective, they are also far less expensive.”

“In WA, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up only 3 per cent of the overall population, but 40 per cent of adults and 75 per cent of children behind bars. Our approach to this issue needs to be evidence based and responsive, not sensationalised or reactive.”

‘Community safety, social wellbeing’

Social Reinvestment co-chair Glenda Kickett said, “we need to work for healthy families, we need to put into practice smart justice, we need to create safe communities.

“We need to see immediate reform of the ineffective laws and policies, like imprisoning people for unpaid fines, that cement a cycle of costly imprisonment at the expense of children, families, and community safety.

“We need to identify those communities that are most in need, and provide them with effective and culturally competent programs and services.

“WA can be a leader in promoting community safety, social wellbeing and inclusive justice for all people.”

Glenda Kickett is a Noongar woman who currently works for the Australian Childhood Foundation, lectures at the University of Western Australia, and is the chairperson of NAIDOC Perth. Daniel Morrison is a Noongar Yamatji man, and the CEO of the Aboriginal Alcohol and Drug Services. They both serve as co-chairs of Social Reinvestment WA.