Jesuit Social Services welcomes the opportunity to provide feedback on the draft Northern Territory Aboriginal Justice Agreement.

Almost 20 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody that initiated the development of Aboriginal Justice Agreements (AJA) in other jurisdictions, the development of an AJA for the Northern Territory is an historic process.

Jesuit Social Services commends the Northern Territory Government for its commitment to the development of the Agreement, which seeks to reduce reoffending and imprisonment rates of Aboriginal Territorians, engage and support Aboriginal leadership, and improve justice responses and services to Aboriginal Territorians.

As described in the Pathways to the Northern Territory Aboriginal Justice Agreement, the draft Agreement is the product of extensive community consultation, including over 120 consultations across the Northern Territory, including 80 meetings in remote and regional Aboriginal communities. The development of the Agreement has set a standard in genuine community consultation that should be emulated across government.

Jesuit Social Services provides this submission with the awareness that we are a non-Aboriginal organisation, working predominantly with Aboriginal young people and communities in the Northern Territory. The primary intent of our submission is to express our strong support for this process, which has been Aboriginal-led, seeks to embed Aboriginal leadership within the justice system, and seeks to fundamentally transform outcomes for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

In the submission, drawing on our practice experience, we offer reflections as a non-Aboriginal service provider working with justice-involved young people and families on policy and practice changes needed across government and among service providers to support the vision of the Agreement. We also offer brief recommendations focused on the resourcing and accountabilities required for the Agreement to achieve its vision and aims.