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Sunday 12th of July 2020


Change The Record


Oceania, Australia

TypeCountry of origin

Coalition Australia


Assistance, Defender, Justice, Minorities, Protection


The Change the Record campaign has two overarching goals, to:

Close the gap in rates of imprisonment by 2040; and

Cut the disproportionate rates of violence to at least close the gap by 2040 with priority strategies for women and children.

To Change the Record, we need to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to invest in holistic early intervention, prevention and diversion strategies. These are smarter, evidence-based and more cost-effective solutions that increase safety, address the root causes of violence against women and children, cut reoffending and imprisonment rates, and build stronger communities.

Here are our key principles for reform:

1) Invest in communities, not prisons

Evidence clearly demonstrates that strong, healthy communities are the most effective way to prevent crime and make communities safe. Prisons have been shown to be extremely costly, damaging and ultimately ineffective at reducing crime. Every dollar spent on prisons is one less dollar available to invest in reducing social and economic disadvantage through education, health, disability, housing, employment and other programs. Government funding must be reinvested into initiatives that address the underlying causes of crime.

2) Local communities have the answers

Directly affected people are best placed to identify local issues in their community and implement local solutions. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations provide culturally appropriate services, and are able to develop localised, tailored solutions that have the support of the community.

3) Recognise the driving factors of imprisonment

Along with the experience of poverty and disadvantage, involvement in the child protection system and family violence are two of the clearest indicators of people who are more likely to end up in the criminal justice system. Early intervention strategies to prevent crime must include measures to stop domestic violence and avoid exposure to the child protection system by supporting families and strengthening communities. These strategies will decrease imprisonment rates.

4) Focus on safety

The impacts of crime are felt most keenly by people in that community, particularly women and children who are the victims of violent behaviour. Successful early intervention and prevention strategies will not only cut offending and imprisonment rates, but importantly will increase safety by addressing the root causes of violence against women and children and building stronger communities.

5) Services, not sentences

The criminal justice system is often an ineffective or inappropriate way to look after people who have a disability or are experiencing poverty, mental illness, drug or alcohol addiction, homelessness or unemployment. We need a social policy and public health response to such issues, not a criminal justice one. Services like adequate health care, disability supports, employment and training, drug treatment and affordable housing cost far less than prisons, and have a substantially better record of success.

6) Community policing, not policing the community

Police have an enormously important and often difficult role to play in dealing with offending behaviour and keeping us all safe. However, for many communities their experience of police includes over-policing, harassment and racism, which can sometimes exacerbate the situation for already marginalised and disadvantaged communities. Changes to the ways police interact with and enforce the law in communities experiencing poverty and disadvantage can play a vital role in building trust, promoting safety, reducing crime and building stronger communities.

7) Smarter sentencing

The hallmark of a justice system is fairness. Harsher sentences and laws that strip judges of their ability to make the sentence fit the crime, such as mandatory sentencing, need to be changed. A wider range of sentencing alternatives encompassing non-custodial options enables judges to ensure that sentences are tailored, fair and appropriate.

8) Eliminate unnecessary imprisonment

Many people are locked up because they could not pay off fines or were convicted for relatively minor offences. In many instances, sending a person to prison is unnecessary and can contribute to further involvement in the criminal justice system. We need to rethink the costly practice of keeping people behind bars and consider more effective community options.

9) Adopt community justice approaches

Serious crime, particularly violent offending, damages individuals and communities, and impacts women and children disproportionately. Evidence tells us that therapeutic and restorative processes, such as Koori and Murri courts, drugs courts and healing circles, are ways in which the criminal justice system can help to rebuild relationships and deliver positive outcomes for the entire community.

10) Young people don’t belong in prison

Punitive ‘tough on crime’ approaches to youth offending and misbehaviour fail to recognise that young people are still developing and that far more appropriate opportunities for support and positive reinforcement exist than putting children behind bars. Exposure to youth detention also substantially increases the likelihood of involvement in crime as an adult. As much as possible, at risk young people must be supported to maximise their chances of achieving their full potential.

11) Rehabilitation, not just punishment

A prison sentence should not be a sentence for life. Just about every prisoner will be released back into the community at some stage. It is in all of our interests to ensure that people in prison are not just punished, but that there is an appropriate focus on rehabilitation that includes education, programs and support services.

12) Reintegration not recidivism


Change the Record is overseen by a Steering Committee, made up of  leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, human rights and community organisation, including:


ANTaR listens to and supports the aspirations of Australia's First Peoples and works to educate the wider community, shape public opinion, speak up against injustice, and influence public policy to advance our vision of justice, rights and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Amnesty International

Amnesty International is a global movement of over 7 million people committed to defending those who are denied justice or freedom.

Australian Council of Social Service

The Australian Council of Social Service is the peak body of the community services and welfare sector and the national voice for the needs of people affected by poverty and inequality. Our vision is for a fair, inclusive and sustainable Australia where all individuals and communities can participate in and benefit from social and economic life.

Federation of Community Legal Centres (VIC)

The Federation of Community Legal Centres is the peak body for Victorian community legal centres and leads the Smart Justice coalition, a coalition of organisations working to promote a safer community through criminal justice policies that reduce crime, are based on evidence, and comply with human rights.

First Peoples Disability Network (Australia)

First Peoples Disability Network (Australia) ('FPDN') is a national organisation established by and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and communities with lived experience of disability. With a Board of Directors entirely comprising First Peoples with disability, we are guided by the lived experience of disability in determining our priorities and our way of doing business.

Human Rights Law Centre

The Human Rights Law Centre is dedicated to promoting and protecting human rights in Australia and beyond. We do this through a strategic combination of evidence-based advocacy, research, litigation and education.

Law Council of Australia

The Law Council of Australia represents more than 60,000 Australian legal professionals through its constituent member bar associations, law societies and the Large Law Firm Group, on national issues, and promotes the administration of justice, access to justice and general improvement of the law. The Law Council also represents the Australian legal profession overseas, and maintains close relationships with legal professional bodies throughout the world.

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations

NACCHO is the national peak body representing over 150 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) across the country on Aboriginal health and wellbeing issues. It has a history stretching back to 1974.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS) are the leading legal service provider for  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and have been in operation for over forty years. Together the ATSILS provide over 200, 000 legal assistances annually in the areas of criminal, family and civil law in addition to undertaking community legal education, prisoner through-care and law reform and advocacy activities. NATSILS is the peak.

National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (Congress) is a national voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Congress is owned and controlled by its membership and is independent of Government. We aim to be leaders and advocates for recognising our status and rights as First Nations Peoples in Australia.

National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum

Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLSs) provide legal assistance, casework, counselling and court support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, primarily women and children who are victims/survivors of family violence, including sexual assault/abuse. The National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum (NFVPLS) was established in 2012, with FVPLSs coming together to collaborate on issues affecting service delivery. The goal of the NFVPLS is to work in collaboration and increase access to justice for victims/survivors of family violence.

Oxfam Australia

Oxfam is a world-wide development organisation that mobilises the power of people against poverty. We provide people with the skills and resources to help them create their own solutions to poverty.

Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care

In existence for over 30 years, the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care - SNAICC - is the national non-government peak body representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

Sisters Inside

Sisters Inside Inc. is an independent community organisation, which exists to advocate for the human rights of women in the criminal justice system, and to address gaps in the services available to them. We work alongside women in prison in determining the best way to fulfill these roles.

Victorian Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, Andrew Jackomos

The Commission for Children and Young People is an independent Victorian Government organisation committed to Improving Young Lives, whilst making sure all Victorian children are safe, well and heard

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda

Mick Gooda is a descendent of the Gangulu people of central Queensland and is the current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner. His term in this position commenced in February 2010.

Contact details

PO Box 77, Strawberry Hills,, 2012, Strawberry Hills, New South Wales, Australia
Telephone: 0409 711 061


  • International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO). Belgian Public Utility Foundation

    All rights reserved

  • Head Office: Rue Armand Campenhout, nº 72 bte 10. 1050. Brussels. Belgium

    Phone: 00 32 262 988 90. Fax: 00 32 262 988 99. oijj@oijj.org

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