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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Alcohol and other drugs knowledge centre Yarning Places

Circle Sentencing



Circle Sentencing is an alternative sentencing court for adult Aboriginal offenders. It directly involves local Aboriginal people in the process of sentencing offenders, with the aims of making it more meaningful and improving confidence in the criminal justice system. It also empowers Aboriginal people to address criminal behaviour within their local communities.

The program operates in Nowra, Dubbo, Walgett, Brewarrina, Bourke, Lismore, Armidale, Kempsey and Mt Druitt. An Aboriginal Project Officer is located in each site where Circle Sentencing operates.

Department of Justice and Attorney General New South Wales abstract


Department of Justice, New South Wales
Parramatta Justice Precinct
160 Marsden Street
Locked Bag 5111
Parramatta NSW 2124
Ph: (02) 8688 7777
Fax: (02) 8688 7980

Related publications

Circle sentencing (2010)

Aboriginal Programs Unit

This fact sheet provides information on the Circle sentencing initiative, an alternative sentencing court for Aboriginal offenders in New South Wales (NSW), with the full sentencing powers of a mainstream court.

The resource covers topics such as:

The fact sheet was produced by the NSW Department of Justice and Attorney-General.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Judicial Commission of New South Wales (2009)

Circle sentencing in New South Wales [DVD].

: Judicial Commission of New South Wales

The Circle sentencing in New South Wales DVD was primarily designed as an educational tool for judicial officers, but can also be of great benefit to other participants in circle sentencing, including police prosecutors, defence lawyers, project officers and Aboriginal elders. It explains in a very straightforward way how circle sentencing works, how to go about it and its benefits.

Circle sentencing is an alternative sentencing program which involves members of Aboriginal communities in the sentencing of Aboriginal offenders. The DVD provides insight into circle sentencing from the perspective of key players in the process, in particular, Aboriginal offenders discuss their first hand experience of circle sentencing and its positive effects.

The DVD was produced by the Judicial Commission, with expertise provided by the Ngara Yura Committee.

Judicial Commission of New South Wales abstract

Fitzgerald J (2008)

Does circle sentencing reduce Aboriginal offending?.

Sydney: New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

Connors C (2004)

Circle sentencing.

Impact; Summer: 10-11

Thomas B (2000)

Circle sentencing: involving Aboriginal communities in the sentencing process.

Sydney: Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee

Evaluated publications

Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia (2008)

Evaluation of circle sentencing program.

Sydney: Department of Justice and Attorney General NSW


Last updated: 3 June 2016
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