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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 February 2021) . . Page.. 302 ..

My hope is that this review will bring together all of the stakeholders and agencies who are involved in determining the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system and will shine a light on the system in its entirely, informed by the lived experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves, so that we can clearly see what steps are next on our long journey to true equality.

I am pleased that the government’s amendments to Mrs Kikkert’s motion provide the opportunity for the Assembly to endorse this important work, and I look forward to seeing this progress. I also acknowledge the significant work that is already underway in this space, some of which is included in the government’s amendments to this motion and which Minister Gentleman and Minister Rattenbury have outlined in their comments. I recognise that Mrs Kikkert also acknowledged a number of those investments that we have already been making.

We must also keep doing, as we did with Our Booris, Our Way—investing in family group conferencing and functional family therapy at the same time that we were progressing the review. We must keep investing in those things that we know are already making a difference and those things that have an evidence base elsewhere: things like Yarrabi Bamirr justice reinvestment program that both ministers have spoken about, which started as a trial with Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, expanded to include the Aboriginal Legal Service and the Women’s Legal Centre, and now has ongoing funding.

Yarrabi Bamirr is a family-centric support model, working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to improve life outcomes and reduce or prevent contact with the justice system, particularly in relation to transgenerational offending. More recently, my colleague Ms Davidson, the Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services, announced the commencement of a trial of functional family therapy youth justice, which has been funded through the confiscated assets trust as part of the ACT government’s work towards raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

This pilot, to be delivered by OzChild, builds on the success of functional family therapy child welfare which is delivered by OzChild and Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation. The success of these types of programs and more, including programs run by Yeddung Mura Aboriginal Corporation and Tjillari Justice Aboriginal Corporation, highlights a number of things.

Firstly, it is not enough to intervene in one individual’s life at the point where they are incarcerated, or even at the point at which they interact with police and the courts. This is critically important, and I take Mrs Kikkert’s point that people who are incarcerated are in a position where they deserve the protection of the community and they need the protection of the community. While that is critically important, working with families and communities and delivering early support for children and young people is what will change the trajectory of people’s lives.

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