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What is justice reinvestment?

“Justice Reinvestment is an internationally recognised approach that focuses on transforming justice services and systems to focus on prevention and early intervention with the intent of reducing incarceration. Justice Reinvestment is a framework or methodology that seeks to tackle the rising rates of imprisonment through a community development approach: enabling local communities to identify and implement initiatives and strategies likely to have some impact on reducing incarceration. A key component of Justice Reinvestment involves the diversion of a portion of correctional funding used to incarcerate people, to instead be spent inside that community to enact positive change – both in and out of the justice system.”

– Smith, J., Allison, F., Christie, B., Clifford, S., Robertson, K., Ireland, S. & Wallace, T. (2019). Katherine Youth Justice Reinvestment: Final Report. Darwin, Menzies School of Health Research.

Watch a short clip on Justice Reinvestment put together by the Australian Attorney General’s Department below.

Timeline: Justice reinvestment in Katherine

2015: Proof of concept project in the NT with NTCOSS and NAAJA

In 2015, NT Council of Social Services (NTCOSS) and North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) received funding from the Law Society Public Purposes Trust (NT) to undertake a justice reinvestment ‘proof of concept’ project. The project sought to determine the capacity of a justice reinvestment model to reduce incarceration and offending of 10 – 24 year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Katherine, NT.

You can learn more about this in the paper produced by Fiona Allison (2016), ‘Justice Reinvestment in Katherine: Report on initial community consultations’.


In 2015-2016, Ms Fiona Allison from James Cook University worked with a number of community stakeholders to explore an initial ‘proof of concept’ project in Katherine on Justice Reinvestment. Consultations revealed that stakeholders in Katherine were overwhelmingly in support of introducing an justice reinvestment approach, leading to the establishment the Katherine Youth Justice Reinvestment Group (KYJRG), a group with membership of, and which built on, the initial project Steering Group.

The Katherine Youth Justice Reinvestment Group (KYJRG) was established in 2016 with the aim to progress a shared community vision to transform youth justice services and systems in Katherine to focus on prevention and early intervention with the intent of reducing incarceration.

The final report was published in 2019 and you can view it below.

October 2022

Funding Announcement

Albanese Government delivers landmark First Nations justice investment, 25 October 2022.

This includes:

  • $81.5 million to invest in up to 30 community-led justice reinvestment initiatives across Australia and establish an independent national justice reinvestment unit as recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission, the largest funding package in justice reinvestment ever committed by the Commonwealth;
  • $13.5 million in additional funding to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS) to increase its capacity to provide culturally appropriate legal assistance in coronial inquiries;
  • $1 million to build greater capacity in the peak body, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) to provide leadership across the Indigenous legal sector; and
  • $3 million to support the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum, and the FVPLS providers who deliver legal assistance and non-legal support to victim-survivors of family and domestic violence and sexual assault.

The Australian Government justice reinvestment commitments can be found on the Attorney General’s webpage.

December 2022

ABC News article

‘Katherine community asked to back justice reinvestment project to tackle crime’

February 2023
  • Consultations for the JR program opened 23rd February-14th April
    • The First Nations Justice Taskforce partnered with the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research to facilitate national design consultations on the National Justice Reinvestment Program and an independent National Justice Reinvestment Unit
  • Katherine Justice Reinvestment-Reference Group meetings resumed (16 February)
    • A number of local community organisations and community members attended
    • At this meeting, at ‘Interim Governance Working Group’ was created- participation was open to the group and community members self elected
    • A secretariat for the Reference Group was identified
    • An Aboriginal Reference Group* (working title) was created for Aboriginal members of the Reference group
    • A Stakeholder mapping working group was established
  • The Justice Reinvestment Interim Governance Working Group met a number of times from March to May 2023 to discuss governance, considerations to incorporate into a Katherine model and to draft a potential model. The group invited Alistar Ferguson from the Maranguka project in Bourke, NSW and James Smith from Flinders University who was involved in the KYJRG Final report- to chat to the group about their experiences with justice reinvestment projects and some key learnings
  • The Stakeholder Mapping group also met to consolidate key stakeholders and service providers in Katherine to help beginning to identify gaps and determine current service provision.

March–June 2023
  • The Katherine Justice Reinvestment Group continued to meet regularly to get updates from the two working groups as well to discuss next steps to continue progressing justice reinvestment, including establishing themselves as the ‘K Town Justice Group’
  • In May, the Interim Governance Working Group produced a draft terms of reference document, including principles and a governance model.

What is happening now?

The K-Town Justice Group have continued to meet regularly throughout the year and in June were successful in receiving ‘Justice Reinvestment Readiness Funding’. The purpose of this funding was to help prepare for the larger Justice Reinvestment grant applications opening in September 2023.

‘Four NT communities chosen to receive federal support for justice reinvestment strategies.’

The K-Town Justice Group have been meeting with a number of community members and local organisations to discuss Justice Reinvestment and the groups intention to apply for the Attorney General Justice Reinvestment grant before the end of the year.

Part of this engagement also included a Justice Reinvestment stall at the R U Okay day event in September, with a raffle drawn for anyone who filled out a short survey.

Program Logic Model Workshop, October 2023

On the 26 October, the Smith Family hosted a Program Logic workshop. The group met to sit down and brainstorm what the inputs, outputs and outcomes of the project could be to include in the application.

Get involved

To find out more about Justice Reinvestment or to get involved, send us a message via the form below.

Contact Katherine Justice Reinvestment

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