The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government has today announced the staged commencement of circle sentencing at Penrith Courthouse, as part of a $20 million investment over four years in Aboriginal justice initiatives.
Member for Penrith, Stuart Ayres, welcomed this important announcement for Western Sydney.
“The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government is committed to working closely and collaboratively with Aboriginal communities to address the disproportionate rates of Aboriginal incarceration.
“I am delighted to see that Penrith Courthouse is expected to take referrals from April,” Mr Ayres said.
“This announcement is a key milestone for Aboriginal justice initiatives in Western Sydney, and demonstrates the commitment of the Liberals and Nationals to invest in community-led initiatives that address the underlying causes of crime.”
Circle sentencing is an alternative sentencing method in which a local court magistrate works with Aboriginal Elders, victims, respected members of the community and the offender’s family to determine the appropriate sentence.
In addition to Penrith Courthouse, NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman also announced the staged commencement of circle sentencing at seven further locations across New South Wales.
“Since the circle sentencing program began as a pilot in Nowra 21 years ago this month, more than 1,518 circle sentencing sittings have been held for Aboriginal offenders, helping them to address the causes of their behaviour and turn their lives around,” Mr Speakman said.
“The circle sentencing program has proven that the justice system can work with Aboriginal communities on common goals of reducing re-offending and helping victims of crime in their recovery.”
A 2020 study by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research showed that, compared with those sentenced in traditional ways, Aboriginal offenders participating in circle sentencing are 9.3 percentage points (51.7 per cent) less likely to go to prison, 3.9 percentage points (9.6 per cent) less likely to re-offend within 12 months and (if they do reoffend) take 55 days longer to reoffend.