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Throughcare in the Territory: small steps to big change Jared Sharp Advocacy Manager NAAJA

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Presentation on theme: "Throughcare in the Territory: small steps to big change Jared Sharp Advocacy Manager NAAJA"— Presentation transcript:

1 Throughcare in the Territory: small steps to big change Jared Sharp Advocacy Manager NAAJA

2 This Presentation: 1.Context – ‘Justice NT Style’ 2.Description of NAAJA Throughcare 3.Lessons so far, future directions

3 Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia (2 April 2013) 28 How do we compare? Justice … ‘NT style’


5 Unsustainable cost It costs at least $250 per day to imprison an adult in the NT. This equates to: $8000 PER MONTH $25,000 FOR 3 MONTHS $50,000 FOR 6 MONTHS $100,000 PER YEAR It costs DOUBLE THAT to keep a young person in detention Budget forecasts for 2013-14: 50% increase of young people in detention

6 Prison Number Trajectory 20132020 1600 prisoners3600 prisoners 2 prisons4 prisons $.5 billion construction new prison$1.5 billion additional construction $100million running costs$400million running costs Despite a $495 million new prison set to open in 2014, we will: likely need to keep Berrimah open Need another 1000 bed prison by 2016 Need yet another by 2020

7 Disproportionate impact on Aboriginal People 84% of adults in prison are Aboriginal 98% of young people in detention are Aboriginal ‘The violence of poverty’ no coincidence that Aboriginal people are also more likely to experience high levels of poverty, inadequate housing, health and education, unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, overrepresentation in child protection, family abuse, and a loss of connection to community and culture.

8 ABC story on NAAJA Throughcare ‘New program aims to break prison cycle’ A scheme is helping newly-released prisoners in a bid to reduce the NT's high recidivism rate. 28 Jul 2012, 730NT, ABC TV (1.05 – 3.15) to-break-prison-cycle/4160682 to-break-prison-cycle/4160682

9 Throughcare context at NAAJA NAAJA provides high quality and culturally proficient criminal and civil legal assistance for Aboriginal people in the Top End. In addition to the criminal and civil legal practices, NAAJA also operates an advocacy section which focusses on policy & law reform, community legal education and project, and Throughcare. True Justice, Dignity and Respect for Aboriginal people

10 Our Service Area In Context: Darwin to Lajamanu: 873km Katherine to Borroloola:739km Melbourne to Sydney : 876km Katherine to Ngukurr: 330km Canberra to Sydney: 287km

11 Language & Culture Language Rich language in the NT Importance of using interpreters

12 Who is the Throughcare team? Established in 2009, Funded by the Cth Attorney General’s Department’s Two teams: – Prison-based: 2 workers, focus is supporting prisoners access services and to develop post release plans, especially re parole Palmerston: 4 workers, focus is intensive case management, working with client 6 months pre release and continuing at least 6 months post release

13 Throughcare Continuum First brought into custody Prison Based Ongoing help and referrals Prison Based Parole advocacy Prison Based Throughcare engagement 6 months pre- release Intensive Case Management Release Date Support Prison Based & Intensive Intensive Case Management – 6 months post- release Prison Based & Intensive Ongoing Follow up contact Prison Based & Intensive

14 NAAJA Throughcare 1.Culturally strengthening 2.Intensive – 15 clients max 3.Empowering 4.Voluntary 5.Strengths-based 6.High needs – those who most need our help

15 Statistics on parole (January–August 2012)


17 Throughcare’s success Only 13% of our clients have returned to prison whilst they have been part of our program Almost 50% recidivism rate in the NT (within 2 years of release)

18 Case study – Alice (not her real name) 17 - Sentenced to 2 years and 6 months – partly suspended - for violent offending Complex family problems – little contact with father; mother seemed more interested in drinking and her own life than looking after her children No permanent or secure housing: mother travelled frequently while young. Mother threw client out of home in a regional town, and drifted to Darwin. Carries a lot of hurt and anger. Using drugs and alcohol as an escape. Disrupted education Negative friendship influences Sexual assault victim – hasn’t had sexual assault counseling Other mental heath issues

19 6 months pre-release Visit client every Tuesday Learn more about client: wants to finish school, where live and who with, discuss aspirations (wants to be nurse) Encouraging: schooling, volunteering, behaviour in detention (client misbehaving 2 months prior to parole date because old ‘partner in crime’ moves to Don Dale) Visit local high school. Difficulties in getting them to agree to enrol due to client’s history – advocate. Work with NT Schools and Family Support Centre to get client into schooling meet with family. Multiple home visits, relationship building Organise psychologist – requires ongoing encouragement Open bank account, arrange key card Start Centrelink application process Crisis accommodation through NT Housing Application for NT Housing Investigate options elsewhere

20 Point of Release Pick up client from front gates upon her release. Take client to her family’s house where she will be living Difficulties getting client into school continue. Ineligible as she is required to do pre-schooling entry course. Enrol client in NTOEC– organise all forms Take client to first meeting with new school (principal, attendance and truancy officer, school enrolment and attendance team and assistant principal Year 11) Take client to report at Corrections and to get pathology tests Organise living outside family home benefit with Centrelink and regular Centrelink benefit Arrange client’s ID

21 6 months post-release Falling out with family (who evicted from housing) – help client find alternative housing Moves to community out of Darwin to live with boyfriend. Boyfriend’s mother assaults and threatens client. Arrange for client to leave. Organise lawyer to assist with DVO against ex-boyfriend’s mother Post DVO – help client secure crisis accommodation Arrange for client to stay with NTOEC permanently due to client’s fears she will not be well-suited to mainstream education Information about Training Connections Australia Assisted client begin work at Safe House in community– help with application, letters of reference, ID Assist applying for job with the Defence Indigenous Development Program Strategize how to avoid negative family influences Encourage client to be punctual and reliable Encourage client to not see her Aboriginality as barrier - keep her motivated to stay in school and apply for work Discover client was sexually assaulted in past - arrange sexual assault counseling but requires a lot of encouragement to attend

22 Small and large successes Completed schooling Successfully entered Defence Indigenous Development Program. Begun to write. Still hoping to pursue career as a nurse down the track. life skills – tenacity, determination, ability to manage family issues, avoid negative influences, save money, become punctual and reliable relationship of trust – opened up about sexual assault Never failed to report Never delivered a ‘dirty’ urine sample. Did not breach any parole conditions Did not reoffend

23 Case study – Dwayne(not his real name) 6 year sentence as a 16 year old NPP 3 years and 9 months When turned 18, moved to adult prison > currently Low security Eligible for parole February 2013, full term April 2015 Very little development of parole plan NAAJA involved – working with this client for 3 years

24 Post-release planning 2013 - Parole plans faltering: Repeated deferrals since 2012 for further development of post release plans, psychological assessment re risk of re-offending, as well as accommodation issue. Parole Officer consider accommodation option unacceptable. Also says Elders don’t want him to return to that town. This is in conflict with instructions from client At same time, PPO not proactively looking for alternative options. Upshot is that left in custody, and as with many of our clients, could mean serve full term in custody

25 Client-centred post-release planning NAAJA Throughcare worker continues to work tirelessly with client, family, to develop post- release plans Travelled to town (about 750kms from Darwin) to meet with family and Elders to assess return to that town and formulate a solid release proposal. Whilst there, met with nearby station and able to arrange full-time employment.

26 Dwayne now has viable post- release option Alternative: spend next 1-2 years in custody, unlikely do programs, leave jail with poor prospects How this post-release plan achieved?  Proactive, responsive to exploring all options  Unwillingness to tolerate status quo  Ability to effectively engage family and Elders  Willingness to do things in the right way – face to face  Going above and beyond to maximise reintegration prospects – pursuing job on station

27 What makes successful Throughcare? Highly skilled and motivated staff Client-centred, relationship-based Working with individual and family Ongoing support, on client’s terms (voluntary) Culturally strengthening Fiscally-sound: If we keep just 5 people out of jail for 12 months, we are paying for the annual cost of the project But not just about the money! Ethically and morally sound

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