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The Indigenous justice program aims to address Indigenous offending in Mount Isa, Queensland, by providing a diversionary rehabilitative bail program operating through the Indigenous sentencing list (formerly the Murri court). The program incorporates:
North West Queensland Indigenous Catholic Social Services (NWQICSS) also adopted a narrative therapy approach to client counseling.
NWQICSS received funding during January 2012 to June 2013 from the Australian Government Attorney General's Department to implement the Indigenous justice program. The program has continued to be delivered by NWQICSS after the initial funding period finished in June 2013.
During the funding period, NQQICSS assisted a total of 107 clients (90 men and 17 women) from various communities. Clients typically had multiple contacts with the justice system prior to the program and had multiple current offences. The offences tended to be related to domestic violence, breaches of bail conditions, and driving related offences. A number of positive gains were reported by the clients, stakeholders and staff in terms of improving the lives of clients and addressing the underlying factors which may contribute to offending among the client base.
Clients that were interviewed reported sharing health and service information that they had learnt at the men's and women's groups with their families and in social settings with their friends. Clients reported changes in their emotional status, physical appearance, skills and behaviour. A number of compliance and justice process impacts were reported including the recognition by clients that the program served as a second chance to address their offending behaviour rather than going to jail. Stakeholders and staff reported that compliance with court-based conditions had improved, some clients had stayed offence-free and there was an observed lessening in the frequency and severity of offending from some clients. A number of client achievements were reported in terms of completing educational courses, obtaining accommodation and securing employment.
North West Queensland Indigenous Catholic Social Services abstract
Brother Martin McHugh
North West Queensland Indigenous Catholic Social Services
Ph: (07) 4749 8500