The Central Desert Regional Council will conduct a restorative justice trial in Yuendumu in an effort to keep more people out of the criminal justice system.
The 'Civil' process will involve working closely with local police to determine appropriate referrals to the system. Elders trained in restorative justice will lead meetings between between victims and offenders. The council will invest its resources to support the outcome of these meetings.
Council President Adrian Dixon said this process has been a long time in development. "Our Council has been looking for better ways to hold people responsible for their behaviour, to pay restitution where appropriate. But it's also about restoring some authority amongst our elders, about us taking control, It's about making things right." Mr Dixon said.
Central Desert Regional Council CEO, Cathryn Hutton explained that this initiative isn't aimed at serious crime. It's about dealing with kids or adults for lower level property offences that might otherwise go through a criminal process.
The civil restorative justice process will divert people away from police or court action after consultation with police and careful consideration of the nature and extent of the offence and the history of the offender.
"The Council is acutely aware of the need to be part of the solution to keeping Indigenous people out of Jail. In the shadow of the Royal Commission, this is a very timely trial. Our Council is committed to local decision making. It is committed to the primacy of cultural authority as the means of real and sustained behaviour change. Ms Hutton said.
The trial will commence in Yuendumu and will be implemented by the Southern Tanami Kurdiji, Yuendumu's highly successful mediation and justice group. A report back to Council will be made in early 2018 before potentially being rolled out to other communities in the Central Desert Region.
For more information contact Director Community Services - John Gaynor on 0428 849 520.