Community Justice Group Program
About the program
Community Justice Groups (CJGs) currently operate in over 40 communities throughout Queensland. CJGs are non- government organisations. In some communities these CJGs have been operating for over a decade, providing practical support to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people coming into contact with Queensland’s justice system. In some communities, CJGs also play an advisory role in Alcohol Management Plans.
CJGs were first introduced in Queensland in 1993 under a pilot program designed to address key recommendations following the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The pilot program was later expanded to a state-wide program underpinned by the goal of reducing the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in the criminal justice system.
The program provides grant funding to CJGs. The grant includes funding to employ a CJG Coordinator who assists the CJG members (local Elders and Respected Persons) to deliver the justice-related services within their community.
Role of a CJG
CJGs are run by members of the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and provide a community-based response to local issues, working cooperatively with magistrates, police, corrective services personnel and staff from other government agencies and community organisations. CJGs adopt a person-centred approach to addressing crime and justice-related issues in their community utilising cultural leadership and capability to contribute to whole of system outcomes.
CJG service delivery
CJGs deliver a number of core, court related activities including:
- preparation of bail and sentence submissions to the court
- attending court sittings
- supporting victims and offenders through the court process
- referring victims and offenders to support and legal services;
- providing cultural advice and community input on justice related issues and
- supporting the operation of Murri Courts.
CJGs also deliver a range of other services within their communities aimed at reducing crime, addressing recidivism and promoting community wellbeing and healing. Examples of these services are crisis support, home visits, transportation, parenting programs, after-school and holiday programs, custody visits, men’s and women’s groups, yarning circles, on-country healing programs and other supports for clients transitioning from custody to back into community.
CJGs deliver or contribute to the following programs:
- Murri Courts
- Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Courts in Townsville, Mount Isa, Palm Island and Beenleigh
- the CJG Domestic and Family Violence Enhancement Program in discrete communities
- the Aurukun Restorative Justice Program (Thaa’ Pant Services)
- the High Risk Youth Court in Townsville
- Remote Justices of the Peace Program
CJGs established in discrete Aboriginal communities under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities (Justice, Land and Other Matters) Act 1984 are referred to as ‘statutory’ CJGs. Statutory CJGs perform the same important functions as other CJGs and have an additional role providing advice regarding alcohol management. Membership appointments to statutory CJGs are made under section 20(2) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities (Justice, Land and Other Matters) Act 1984 and are published on the Queensland Courts website here
Locations of CJGs
CJGs currently operate in 40 communities throughout Queensland:
|Bayside (Cleveland and Wynnum)||Kuranda||Pormpuraaw|
|Goondiwindi||Mount Isa||Wujal Wujal|
|Ipswich||NPA (Northern Peninsula Area)|
CJGs also operate on 10 of the outer islands of the Torres Strait to support circuiting Magistrates Court:
|Badu (Mulgrave) Island||Mabuiag Island||Saibai Island|
|Boigu (Talbot) Island||Masig (Yorke) Island||Warraber (Sue) Island|
|Erub (Darnley) Island||Mer (Murray) Island|
|Iama (Yam) Island||Moa (Kubin Village and St Pauls Community Island) Island|
A Framework for Stronger CJGs
The Framework for Stronger Community Justice Groups (the framework) outlines the role of CJGs within their communities and the common challenges faced by CJGs. It also presents a refocused model for the CJG program recognising the breadth of their service delivery.
The framework outlines how government agencies will enable CJGs to deliver justice-related outcomes in their communities. The framework aims to help government agencies to identify ways of working together to acknowledge, remunerate and support the work of CJGs.
Community Justice Group Program Evaluation
The evaluation of the CJG program and CJG Domestic and Family Violence Enhancement program, led by Dr Michael Limerick and Dr Heron Loban from Myuma Pty Ltd, has commenced and will run until December 2023.
‘Myuma’ means ‘do good’ in the Indjalandji-Dhidhanu language.
Myuma’s vision is for evaluations of programs delivered in Indigenous communities to be more embedded in local community practice, informed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural perspectives, and led by skilled Indigenous evaluators and community development practitioners.
For more information, contact Michael here