Weave’s Involvement in Just Reinvest NSW
Just Reinvest NSW is the group running the Justice Reinvestment for Aboriginal Young People campaign which was launched on May 2nd 2012 at Government House in Sydney. Supporters and champions of the campaign include: Her Excellency the Governor of NSW Professor Marie Bashir, Adam Goodes, Justice Michael Kirby, Malcolm Fraser, Gary Ella, Mick Dodson, Tom Calma, Mick Gooda, Nicholas Cowdry and many others. The campaign was initiated in response to the shameful over representation of Aboriginal people and in particular Aboriginal young people in detention. Some facts are:
In New South Wales, Aboriginal young people make up just 2.2% of the general population, but over half of the detention population.
Aboriginal young people are also 28 times more likely to be placed in juvenile detention than non-Indigenous young people.
The NSW Audit Office reported that the 2011 average daily cost of supervising and caring for juvenile offenders in detention was $652 per person per day or $237,980 annually.
Justice reinvestment is about taking taxpayers dollars out of prisons and putting them back into communities that have high rates of disadvantage and high crime levels. This reinvested money would then be used to tailor programs in those communities to address the underlying causes of offending. It is a bottom up approach that is led by key people and groups in those communities. When implemented, justice reinvestment programs benefit entire communities, not just Aboriginal young people.
To find out more about the campaign go to the website: http://justicereinvestmentnow.net.au/
Weave has been spearheading the youth engagement sub-committee which is a key part of the campaign. It is crucial that the voices of Aboriginal young people are front and centre and that their stories are heard. Six Aboriginal young people represented Weave at the campaign launch event at Government House and one of those, Trei Stewart, made a speech on the night. Two others, Beau Foster and Kobie Duncan performed a rap they had written for the occasion. Trei also features in the original campaign video on the JR website as does Raymond Button another of Weave’s young ambassadors. Trei and Raymond also featured in the National Indigenous Times and Koori Mail as well as Trei appearing on The Project on Channel 7 and SBS news around the time of the launch in 2012. More recently, Beau, Trei and Kobie and their music video about JR ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTQ8k209ls4) featured on ABC’s Lateline program (http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2013/s3738635.htm) about Justice Reinvestment. There have been gatherings of young people from Weave and White Lion to discuss the campaign and how they can raise the profile and get support and spread the word amongst other young people. There have been field trips to Tirkandi Innaburra near Griffith to share information and creative ideas with the Aboriginal young men in that program. Beau, Kobie and Trei presented their stories and rap and talked about JR at Sydney Girls High School in July 2013 for their NAIDOC day. The three boys also blew everyone away at the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition National Conference in Adelaide. They talked about Justice Reinvestment and told their stories and performed a new rap specially written for the event. The response was overwhelming and there are lots of communities that would love to have the boys visit to speak and perform for their young people. The Alice Springs and Darwin conference delegates were particularly keen! SBS and NITV media came to the conference to film the boys and you can see a clip on the SBS website at: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1797445/Teens-promote-justice-reinvestment-through-rap
On August 15th 2013, Her Excellency Marie Bashir the Governor of NSW invited the boys back to Government House for morning tea and a chance to find out what they have been doing since the campaign launch. Professor Bashir was suitably impressed with their progress and hard work and she pledged steadfast support for the campaign and encouraged them to continue their efforts and reach for the stars in their education and careers. It was a very inspirational meeting.
A recent Senate Committee Inquiry into Justice reinvestment in Australia makes a very strong case for this approach to be trialled as soon as possible. We cannot afford to lose another generation of Aboriginal people.
Jess, Raymond, Kobie, Marie Bashir, Beau Foster and Trei Stewart at the campaign launch at Government House May 2nd 2012