In case you missed it, on 30th January, I was a guest again on 3CR’s Community Radio ‘Doin Time’ show with wonderful broadcaster Pete Esan (co broadcaster Marisa Sposaro not far away). Jared Sharp. Jesuit Social Services’ General Manager in the Northern Territory joined us by phone. Jared, formerly a lawyer with the Northern Territory Aboriginal Justice Agency, was featured in ABC TV’s Four Corners investigation into Darwin’s Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, which resulted in the Federal Government establishing a Royal Commission into the Territory’s youth detention and child protection systems.
Given the crisis in Victoria’s Youth Justice system, we talked about the much needed youth justice and adult prison reform in all states and territories. In particular, the need for Elders, mentors, and restorative justice. The role of Elders is vital in youth justice systems where indigenous youth are over represented. We need prisons becoming more like communities, adopting the UK’s User Voice democratic prison council practices. Communities introducing restorative justice and ‘Save Our Streets / SOS gang’s projects with reformed gang members, such as those in practice in the US, UK, Ireland and Sweden.
It is vital to utilize the lived experience of those who have been there before, survived and moved on in life. They are the experts, the ones with the credibility and respect, the ones who can build the trust, inspiration and motivation for those struggling to see how they could live another life, other than crime and revolving detention. Reformed offenders believe in a person’s ability to change – just as they did. As we know, real reform will only commence when governments implement Ombudsman’s’, Royal Commission’s and my Churchill Fellowship research recommendations.