'Circle sentencing' to expand

A GROUNDBREAKING program that enables Aboriginal elders to take a leading role in the sentencing of indigenous offenders is being expanded across NSW.

The Keneally Government has announced ‘circle sentencing’, which currently operates at 10 locations in NSW including Nambucca Heads and Kempsey, will be rolled out into Moree, Ulladulla, Wellington, Blacktown and Coonamble.

The expansion is in response to calls made by Aboriginal Community Justice Groups as part of a series of forums held in Sydney, Coffs Harbour and Dubbo late last year that discussed criminal and civil justice issues.

“Circle sentencing has been identified as an extremely important program by Aboriginal Community Justice Groups because it breaks down barriers between the justice system and Aboriginal communities,” Attorney General John Hatzistergos said.

“It takes suitable offenders out of the traditional courtroom setting and into the community, where the offender, their peers, the victim, members from the Aboriginal Community Justice Group and the magistrate sit in a circle to determine a rehabilitation plan and provide advice on sentencing.

"By involving the Aboriginal community in the justice process, the program directly connects elders to justice outcomes and ensures support is offered to offenders by members of the community,” he said.


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