Evaluation of the Aboriginal Justice Agreement: Phase 2: Final Report


The Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement (AJA) is a formal partnership between the Victorian Government and the Koori community, which has been operating since June 2000 working to improve justice outcomes for Koories. The Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreements (AJA1 and AJA2) represent the first stages by Victoria in response to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody’s findings. The aims of AJA2 were to: minimise Koori overrepresentation in the criminal justice system by improving accessibility, utilisation and efficacy of justice-related programs and services in partnership with the Koori community; and to ensure the Koori community, as part of the broader Victorian community, have the same access to human, civil and legal rights, living free from racism and discrimination and experiencing the same justice outcomes through the elimination of inequities in the justice system. Six objectives were identified: crime prevention and early intervention; diversion/strengthening alternatives to imprisonment; reduce re-offending; reduce victimisation; responsive and inclusive services; strengthen community justice responses. In mid-2011, the Department of Justice instigated an independent evaluation of the AJA2. There was extensive consultation with stakeholders including community-based and government staff responsible for the delivery of AJA2 programs and services, as well as community members who had accessed or participated in AJA2 programs or services. The evaluation aims to understand what the AJA2 has delivered by focusing on what has changed in justice outcomes for the Koori community since 2006 as a result of the AJA2, both in overall Koori overrepresentation in the justice system and also in terms of the six objectives of the AJA2. The main finding of this evaluation is that the AJA2 has delivered significant improvements in justice outcomes for Koories in Victoria, but there is more to do. Overall, the evaluators strongly recommend that the Victorian Koori community and Government sign a third Aboriginal Justice Agreement (AJA3), identified by the Attorney General at the Aboriginal Justice Forum in April, 2011. Despite the fact that the overrepresentation of Koories in the justice system is a highly complex and multi-generational problem and Victorian sentencing reforms are likely to disproportionately impact Victoria’s Koori population, progress to date shows that Koori overrepresentation in the justice system can be addressed over time with senior level commitment, community involvement and focus. It is noted that the evaluation has been limited by the availability and accuracy of quantitative data.

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