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Evaluation of the Northern Territory Agreement : Final Report

Research and evaluations

TitleEvaluation of the Northern Territory Agreement : Final Report
Author(s)Wilczynski, Ania; Wallace, Alison; Nicholson, Barbara; Rintoul, Duncan
Date 2004
DescriptionOn 27 July 2000, the Australian and Northern Territory Governments entered into an Agreement whereby the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department provided $5 million annually over four years to fund a Juvenile Pre-Court Diversion Scheme and to jointly fund an Aboriginal Interpreter Service (AIS). The Agreement aimed to reduce the number of juveniles entering the criminal justice system and to alleviate the language barriers faced by Aboriginal people. This evaluation assesses the effectiveness of the Agreement in achieving its stated objectives and the procedural and administrative effectiveness of implementing the Agreement itself. The evaluation describes the considerable achievements of the Aboriginal Interpreter Service, but finds that it continues to face a number of challenges, including an insufficient pool of interpreters and the fact that it has yet to be recognised as a core part of all NT government service delivery. The report accordingly details a number of suggested strategies for strengthening the AIS and further increasing access of Aboriginal people to interpreters. With respect to the juvenile diversion scheme, the evaluation finds that diversion has been offered to the majority (61%) of the 4,159 juveniles apprehended in the first three years of the Agreement, and continues to be offered to just under half of all apprehended juveniles. The recidivism rate of this group is lower than that of juveniles who went to court; however the scheme is working far less effectively with Indigenous than non-Indigenous juveniles. Aboriginal young people have been offered diversion less often than non- Aboriginal juveniles, and over the last two years the number of court appearances and convictions involving Aboriginal juveniles has begun to increase, with the number of convictions now exceeding the number preceding the introduction of the scheme. In contrast, non-Indigenous juveniles have experienced sustained and continuous reductions in court appearances and convictions over the full three years of the scheme. The report identifies a number of attitudinal, operational, structural and other issues that are impeding the effective operation of the diversion scheme, and details a number of suggested strategies to address these issues.
Publication detailsAustralian Government Attorney-General's Department
Subject(s)Juvenile justice; Evaluation; Criminal justice system; Legal services
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