Characteristics of Aboriginal Justice Agreements

10.25  The Victorian and ACT AJAs share similar characteristics. The ALRC has identified four defining features: collaboration; governance; joint objectives; and evaluation.

10.26  Collaboration: AJAs are not government-developed strategic plans that can appear to take a ‘top down’ approach. Collaborative processes are the defining feature of AJAs.[22] Stakeholders in preliminary consultation to this Inquiry stressed the importance of participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the development and implementation of criminal justice reforms aimed at decreasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration rates. Participation can result in solutions that are community led and culturally safe and appropriate.

10.27  Governance: AJAs can facilitate participation through agreed systems of governance. Victoria spent time developing governance infrastructure and a representative process, which enables any group or body to participate in the Aboriginal Justice Forums.

10.28  Joint objectives and strategic directions: AJAs provide for the creation of joint justice objectives across government departments and agencies. Programs and initiatives to address incarceration rates can otherwise be siloed from other agencies and initiatives.

10.29  The ALRC has been told that, outside of the ACT and Victoria (and, perhaps, coordinated responses such as the Maranguka Justice Reinvestment Project in Bourke),[23] programs relating to prevention, diversion and rehabilitation appear to be developed and applied in isolation, without a clear strategic framework for governance or decision making. Many programs are personality driven and most remain unevaluated.[24] This may leave current programs in jurisdictions without AJAs more vulnerable to changes in government, policy or budget allocations.

10.30  Accountability: AJAs have clear objectives and provide measurable action plans for government departments to meet. Government accountability is facilitated by processes which promote ongoing participation, discussion and review, and by conducting independent evaluations.