Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja or Senior Leaders Talking Strong is the fourth phase of the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement (AJA). It is an important step in the long and proud history of the Aboriginal community and Victorian Government working in partnership to improve justice outcomes and family and community safety. In this phase of the Agreement we strengthen and give further expression to the Victorian Government’s commitment to self-determination.
From the outset, development of Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja has been framed through the lens of self-determination and what it means in the justice system. It is important to recognise that the AJA was created in response to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and has always embraced its core principles of self-determination and self-management, and arrest and imprisonment as sanctions of last resort.
The first AJA was struck in 2000, and was the first Aboriginal Justice Agreement in the country. Eighteen years on, it’s the longest running continuous agreement, an achievement of which we can be rightfully proud. During that time, trust has been built, relationships have matured, and structures and processes for doing business have been put in place, producing many lasting and profound changes to the justice system.
The partnership between the Aboriginal community and government is reflected in everything we do - from design and development, to the implementation of new activities, to monitoring and evaluating what’s working and what’s not.
Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja brings new challenges and requires us to renew our efforts to address over-representation of Aboriginal people in the justice system. Despite the focus and hard work of both the Aboriginal community and government, we need to continue to tackle the over-representation of Aboriginal people in the justice system, and to close the gap by 2031.
The commitment to self-determination by this government represents a chance for a new effort to tackle these complex challenges. Self-determination is the only policy approach to produce effective and sustainable outcomes for Indigenous peoples around the world.
To promote Aboriginal self-determination and provide further support to reduce over-representation of Aboriginal people in the justice system, the Andrews Labor Government is pleased to provide $40.3 million to support initiatives to be implemented under Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja. This funding includes:
- $15 million to expand existing community-based justice programs and services and develop new community designed and led approaches to reduce Aboriginal involvement in the justice system;
- $12.3 million for a range of court-based initiatives to enable greater Aboriginal participation in civil, criminal and coronial settings;
- $10.8 million to target over-representation in Victoria’s youth justice system by extending the community-based Koori Youth Justice program, and examining the cases of about 250 young people to identify the underlying causes for their offending; and
- $2.2 million to expand the Statewide Indigenous Arts in Prisons and Community Program.
I would like to thank the Aboriginal Justice Caucus for their outstanding leadership and contribution to enhancing our understanding of how Aboriginal self-determination might be more fully expressed in the justice system. They have worked tirelessly in the development of Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja to shape the vision and define the outcomes we will strive to achieve under this Agreement.
The Victorian Government has been guided by the Aboriginal community towards new approaches to meet the challenge of Aboriginal over-representation in the justice system. I encourage all who work under the Agreement to meet this challenge with renewed commitment as we embark on the next phase of the Agreement.
The Hon Martin Pakula MP