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Federal election to decide long-term future of Halls Creek Olabud Doogethu program

The outcome of the federal election could decide the long-term future of an Indigenous justice reinvestment initiative, which is tackling a youth disengagement crisis in the Kimberley.

In Halls Creek, youth crime and domestic violence jumped to record levels at the end of last year, while the town’s school grapples dire attendance rates.

The Halls Creek and the surrounding Indigenous communities are home to Western Australia’s first justice reinvestment initiative, Olabud Doogethu, an Indigenous-led program, supported by the local shire, which aims to reduce incarceration and improve the lives of young people.

The idea of ​​justice reinvestment is to spend more money on boosting disadvantaged communities to achieve long-term savings on prison costs and policing, and supporters say there’s ample evidence in Australia and overseas that shows the approach works.

Labor has committed $79 million to expand justice reinvestment initiatives across Australia, while singing out Olabud Doogethu as an example of a successful program.

Youth engagement officers (far right) try to keep children on the streets out of trouble at night in Halls Creek as part of a social reinvestment initiative. (ABC News: Ted O’Connor)

However when federal member for Durack and Liberal MP Melissa Price was asked about the Commonwealth’s commitment specifically to justice reinvestment, she said that area was largely the responsibility of the state.

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