25 May 2021

From time to time, the Victorian Liberals make a good point: “The Victorian government has spent millions on addressing ­issues with Indigenous inter­actions with the justice system through the state’s Aboriginal Justice Agreements but there has been no public evaluation since 2012. The 2012 evaluation called for greater accountability of the outcomes listed in the agreement and an improvement in data. … A Department of Justice and Community Safety spokesman said the AJA was the longest running agreement of its kind in Australia and had self-determination at its core. ‘We are working with Aboriginal communities to listen, support and deliver real and lasting change — building a stronger, fairer and more accessible justice system,’ he said. ‘We’re breaking cycles of offending and connecting people with culture, country and community through a range of initiatives led by Aboriginal Victorians.’ Opposition legal affairs spokesman Edward O’Donohue pointed to imprisonment data from the report on government services showing a 55.6 per cent increase in the rate of Indigenous adults from 2013-14 (the last full year under the Coalition government) to 2019-20. In comparison, the non-­Indigenous rate increased by 16.9 per cent.” Not great. Maybe it would be worse without the AJAs, but we can’t know without an evaluation — simply asserting that you are “breaking cycles of offending” while incarcerating more and more people is not good enough.