UNSW YN Director Associate Professor Ruth McCausland and Professor Eileen Baldry recently published in the International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy and The Conversation on their research on the social determinants of justice. This work focuses on the social factors that increase a person’s chance of ending up in prison and aims to improve policy and reduce the harms and costs of incarceration.

YN’s approach to reducing the contact of Aboriginal people with the criminal justice system in Walgett is informed by Ruth and Eileen’s work on the social determinants of justice, including:

Disadvantaged location: Walgett is consistently measured as one of the most disadvantaged locations in the country in terms of income, health, housing, education and employment outcomes.

Being Indigenous: Aboriginal people in Walgett are leading and designed to benefit from all of YN’s efforts and programs.

Early police contact: YN’s Two River Pathway to Change model is focused on reduction of contact with police and associated criminalisation for young people in all spheres and building of wellbeing and positive non-justice pathways.

Poor education: The DEG has long advocated to improve outcomes in local schools; the DEG is on the Walgett Community College School Reference Group and YN has contributed advice, evidence and community-led proposals for change.

Out of home care: A high proportion of the children and young people that DEG staff have supported and the Two River Pathway to Change program is designed to support are ’crossover kids’ in the child protection and youth justice systems.

Unsupported mental health, disability and AOD needs: YN’s focus is on supporting criminalised children and young people with complex needs created by a lack of local, culturally appropriate disability, mental health and AOD support.

Homelessness and insecure housing: YN has developed a model of culturally-oriented supported accommodation for young people in contact with the justice system, and is advocating for improved housing quality and quantity generally in Walgett.

ABUSE, VIOLENCE & TRAUMA: YN is building culturally-connected, trauma-informed, therapeutic support & services including through its Two River Pathway to Change program.

SYSTEMIC RACISM & DISCRIMINATION: YN is committed to increased Aboriginal community control and voice, agency accountability, and challenging systemic racism and its impacts in Walgett.

POVERTY & UNEQUAL ACCESS TO RESOURCES: YN is focused on reducing debt and building skills and employment outcomes for Aboriginal people in Walgett, as well improving local infrastructure and services.

OPERATION OF THE CRIMINAL LEGAL SYSTEM ITSELF: focusing on reducing criminalisation and dominance of police in Walgett, holding justice actors to account and building wellbeing and non-justice pathways for Aboriginal people

This approach provides a holistic framework to address the inequity and harm associated with the criminalisation of Aboriginal people, and informs a systemic approach to building positive long-term non-justice pathways and wellbeing.