Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 21 August 2018) . . Page.. 3279 ..
trauma-informed support to victims referred to Victim Support ACT. They also provide advocacy and support to navigate the criminal justice system, including as a companion in court, and assist victims making claims under the financial assistance scheme. This role is important, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are over represented in the justice system not only as offenders but also as victims.
Changing the cycle of disadvantage that comes with repeated contact with the justice system requires critical culturally proficient roles like that of a victim liaison officer. The It’s About Trust report prepared for Victim Support ACT in 2011 found that few Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders would seek Victim Support ACT’s services unless there was an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander worker or someone they trusted working there.
The number of registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients with Victim Support has been decreasing over time, with a 47 per cent drop between 2015-16 and 2016-17. Since contracting an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victim liaison officer in September 2017, the number of registered clients started to increase immediately, with 15 new registered clients recorded by December 2017.
Also central to the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victim liaison officer is building cultural competence within Victim Support ACT and among organisations supporting victims of crime. The victim liaison officer is critical to identifying and maintaining appropriate referral pathways to building trust with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community so that victims of crime will feel confident to access the service.
As I said, the government has provided $285,000 to expand the highly successful, high density housing community and safety program, an example of place-based justice reinvestment, and it is currently operating on Ainslie Avenue. This crime-reducing and community-building program will now also be implemented at Illawarra Court. The program is a multi-agency initiative designed to improve the lives of and reduce the recidivism rates for residents living in high density housing sites.
This multi-agency initiative that includes the Justice and Community Safety Directorate, the Community Services Directorate, ACT Health and ACT Policing, has the following objectives: firstly, prevent or reduce opportunities for crime; secondly, promote community safety and security; thirdly, develop pro-social and law-abiding community engagement; and, finally, facilitate access to services that are related to justice, health, mental health, education and employment.
Reclink Australia, through an on-the-ground program manager and a small team, delivers a range of structured and informal programs to promote and deliver health, social and economic benefits to residents. These have included activities such as building and maintaining community gardens, neighbourhood chats, a skills development shed and a monthly run, roll or walk event at Lake Burley Griffin.
The program is targeted at high and complex-needs residents and includes socially disengaged or isolated people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, women—