Where we are up to
Four community-based intensive diversion programs for Aboriginal people are currently in progress.
Bramung Jaarn, meaning ‘brothers walking together’ in Gunai language, delivered by Dardi Munwurro seeks to engage and empower young Aboriginal men aged 10 to 18 years to heal and build resilience, with the aim of diverting them from the criminal justice system.
During 2020, group sessions adapted to COVID-19 restrictions and were hosted remotely via social media platforms, providing continued cultural activities, intensive support and mentoring to young men, supplemented by the distribution of emergency supplies.
Cultural mentoring programs delivered by Aboriginal Wellness Foundation (formerly Wayapa Wuurrk) aim to engage Aboriginal young people across a range of age groups through cultural and therapeutic activities that strengthen connection to culture and other protective factors.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, AWF implemented strategies to hold workshops via online social platforms, enabling continuity of engagement and the provision of timely, intensive support for young people.
The Australian Centre for Social Innovation was commissioned to develop a program extension model and evaluation framework for Dungulayin Mileka Massive Murray Paddle, auspiced through the Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Associated Limited.
The program extension will build on the current Massive Murray Paddle Program by offering Aboriginal young people the opportunity to engage in coaching, leadership, and relationship-building activities prior to and after the event, as well as strengthening the paddle itself through more structured cultural learning activities during the event. The program extension model was finalised in late 2020, with the program due to commence ahead of the 2021 Massive Murray Paddle in November.
An Aboriginal men’s diversion program in Mildura was endorsed by the Aboriginal Justice Caucus in December 2020 as the fourth community-based intensive diversion program under AJA4.
This program will be delivered by Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS), addressing a crucial service gap for Aboriginal men while also aiming to support families in a more holistic way, where safe to do so, by working with the co-located Koori Women’s Diversion Program. The Koori Justice Unit is working with MDAS to finalise program development and funding arrangements, with delivery anticipated to commence in mid-2021.
Through Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja, the fourth phase of the Aboriginal Justice Agreement (AJA4), the Victorian Government and the Aboriginal community are committed to improving justice outcomes and reducing negative contact with the justice system. Community-Based, Intensive Diversion Programs were one of the funded initiatives announced under AJA4. Community-Based, Intensive Diversion Programs will target Aboriginal children and young people who have had, or are vulnerable to, involvement with the criminal justice system to address factors contributing to offending.