Friday 24 April 2020
During the COVID-19 lockdown it is more important than ever to reach out and maintain connections. The Innovation in Isolation CIJ update is aimed at doing just that, to keep our networks up-to-date with our activities, and to share information and media articles, including justice innovations happening around Australia and the world and to complement our regular fortnightly blog and our more extensive bi-monthly newsletter. We hope you find it useful. 


Feasibility study for a Residential Program for Aboriginal Women in the criminal justice system
CIJ continues to work with Djirra and Pricewaterhouse Coopers Indigenous Consulting on a Feasibility Study for a Residential Program for Aboriginal Women who come into contact with the criminal justice system. Now, more than ever, the wider Victorian community understands the urgent need for alternatives to incarceration - yet the non-custodial, residential options for Aboriginal women, in particular, are especially limited. 

Having conducted a literature review, surveys and site visits to relevant services right around Victoria, the team is now working on innovative ways to consult with community and with women with lived experience on options for the development of a best practice model. Although the challenges of the current environment have thrown some obstacles in the team's way, we are working through these - because we know that women with lived experience of the criminal justice system are the experts in what is needed, so their voices need to be front and centre in the service's ultimate design.

Victim Services Review
In mid-April, the CIJ presented the final findings and recommendations of the Victim Services Review to Victoria’s Minister for Victim Support, Ben Carroll. The culmination of a year-long review which occurred in close collaboration with the Victims Services, Support and Reform (VSSR) team at the Department of Justice and Community Safety, the review identified a clear need for targeted investment in victim services to ensure that more victims of crime in Victoria are able to access tailored, trauma-informed and effective supports. The review recommendations would operate alongside a new Financial Assistance Scheme being developed by VSSR to provide victims of crime with more timely access to financial support.

Open Circle meets UK's Restorative Justice Council
This week, the Open Circle team met (virtually!) with Jim Simon, the CEO of the Restorative Justice Council in the UK (RJC). The RJC sets the standards for restorative practice and champions access to safe, high quality restorative practice across the UK. Restorative justice is more widely accessible in the UK to people harmed in the context of the commission of a criminal offence. Access to information about restorative justice is one of eleven key rights under the Victims Code and restorative justice programs are supported by the Ministry of Justice and RJ processes are supported by legislation. It was fascinating to share practice experiences with Jim, particularly around how restorative justice might be conducted safely during Covid-19-induced isolation and how restorative practices might offer benefits to communities in response to Covid-19 related harms. We are looking forward to further developing our relationship with the RJC. Keep an eye out for a recorded conversation with the RJC and Open Circle in the coming weeks.

Open Circle is now on Twitter @OpenCircleRJ

New justice responses must prioritise Indigenous voices

Indigenous voices are key to achieving better justice outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians and allowing those voices to be heard in a restorative process will help heal the harm caused by past injustices.
Read here
Jarrod Hughes, CIJ Blog, 16 April 2020

COVID-19 and incarcerated women - a call to action
The social & economic cost of holding women in our prisons for relatively minor offences, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, is too big a risk, especially as most have been victims themselves.
Read part 1 here
Catherine Caruana, CIJ Blog, 24 April 2020

Prisons continue to be COVID-19 hotspots for both prisoners and prison workers 

    New Zealand Police brilliantly demonstrate the challenges of Zoom meetings - something most of us can relate to!
Stay safe!

- CIJ team 
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