Smart Justice, Healthy Families, Safe Communities; Challenging the status quo to reduce Indigenous Incarceration and improve justice outcomes in WA

Sophie Stewart6, Daniel Morrison1, Glenda Kickett2, Sarah Murray3, Margaret Glass4, James Back5

1Wungening Aboriginal Corporation, Perth, Australia,

2Australian Childhood Foundation, , Australia,

3UWA Law School, , Australia,

4Youth and Community Development in the Shire of Halls Creek, East Kimberley, Australia,

5Reconilliation WA, Perth, Australia,

6Social Reinvestment WA, Perth, Australia

WA has the highest level of over-representation of Aboriginal people in custody in the nation. Social Reinvestment WA (SRWA) is an Aboriginal led coalition of 23 not-for-profits state wide, who have an alternative vision for an effective and connected approach to justice in Western Australia; One that challenges ‘tough on crime’ narratives to address the underlying causes of offending.

This roundtable explores the collaborative solutions necessary to reducing incarceration, and empower healthy, safe communities and families. It will examine both the interaction and necessary integration of both grassroots solutions and systemic reform to resolve some of the most pressing challenges in WA’s justice system.

Critically it will focus on five intersecting areas, and the challenges and methods of realising them;

  1. Justice reinvestment.
  2. Place based, community led and designed solutions.
  3. Prioritising cultural, social, and emotional wellbeing in our responses to justice issues.
  4. Law Reform
  5. Data driven targeted and collaborative responses.

These discussions will be presented in light of real world work of Social Reinvestment WA, including Olabud Doogethu in Halls Creek, the state’s first Justice Reinvestment site, designed and led by the Aboriginal community in partnership with local government and SRWA; Advocacy for legislative reform on fine default (imprisonment for unpaid fines); And Stories from the Inside, a podcast and video series telling the firsthand stories of persons in WA’s justice system.

This roundtable is a Collaborative Conversation.


Daniel Morrsion is a Noongar/Yamatji Man, born and raised in WA’s South West. CEO of Wungening Aboriginal Corporation for the last ten years, a leading Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation in Perth, providing AOD rehabilitation and counselling, early intervention and family supports, and post prison rehabilitation services to the community. Daniel recently was named as one of ‘40 under 40’ and Ernst and Young 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year Social Entrepreneur, Western Region.

Glenda Kickett is the Manager for Aboriginal Therapeutic Services at the Australian Childhood Foundation, Glenda is a determined Whadjuk and Ballardong Noongar woman. She has worked tirelessly for more than 30 years in Aboriginal-related areas of policy, management and community services. A social worker by profession, Dr Kickett lectures in social work and social policy at the University of Western Australia and is close to finishing her PhD on developing a cultural framework and model to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Dr Kickett is also working to develop a peak body for Aboriginal children in care, an issue close to heart. She has also done significant work with the NAIDOC Perth Committee, and is Glass Jar Australia Chairperson. She was a 2019 finalist in the Western Australian of the Year Awards.

Sarah Murray’s legal and professional career is underpinned by her interest and expertise in community justice and using the law to create a positive impact on society. Practising first as a commercial and community lawyer, Sarah Murray is Associate Professor at UWA and the Deputy Head of School, Community and Engagement. She strongly believes in combining intellectual endeavours with making a difference, and takes great fulfilment from her work. Dr Murray explores areas of public law and legal institutional change through her research, with a particular interest in community justice centres and the constitutional law implications of less-adversarial curial processes. Dr Murray was awarded the Mollie Holman Doctoral Medal for Law by Monash University in 2011, and her thesis was published in 2014. She is also an accomplished author, publishing two books and works across a range of Australian and international journals. She has a particular interest and has won scholarships and published on Community Justice Centre’s.

Margaret Glass has been the Director of Youth and Community Development in the Shire of Halls Creek, in WA’s remote East Kimberley region for the past 7 years. In this role she has championed and spearheaded the co-design and establishment of Olabud Doogethu in partnership with the Aboriginal Community, an initiative working to improve outcomes for the young people of Halls Creek, using a justice reinvestment, asset based community development, and collective impact approach. Prior to moving to Halls Creek, Margaret worked with NZ Defence Force and Government to improve outcomes for young people in the justice system.

A teacher by qualification, James Back has taught in the Perth metropolitan, regional and remote WA and further, in a number of other countries including the UK and Turkey. Community development works, primarily targeting Education and Health in disadvantaged and vulnerable communities have been James’ passion and forte for the past twenty years.  James has a Bachelor of Science, Diploma of Education, P.Grad. Dip in Health, a Master’s in Education and has deferred his PhD studies. James took on a research project in the Western Desert working with the Martu People in 2002. He lived in Punmu Community for 7 years and worked with the Martu for 10 years as a researcher, practitioner, educator, teacher and school principal.  James has been on the team at Reconciliation WA since its inception and is firmly committed to the strategic vision and operational goals of the Association.

Sophie Stewart hails from Perth, and has spent the last four years as the first Campaign Coordinator for Social Reinvestment WA, a coalition of 23 non for profits to run a campaign on ending the over-representation of Aboriginal people in custody in WA. As part of her work she has led development for the first Justice Reinvestment site in WA, coordinated state-wide advocacy to reform legislation to end imprisonment for unpaid fines, and executive produced the Stories from the Inside podcast. She volunteers directing Swim for Refugees a program she founded in 2014, leading 40 volunteers to teach over 60 people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds how to swim. She graduated from a BA Honours degree in Political Science and International Relations in 2016. Sophie has twice been a finalist in the WA Youth Awards.

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