A diversionary program is a form of sentencing usually run by police departments, courts and other agencies. It is aimed at better, long-term outcomes for the offenders and their community, as well as for the criminal justice system. These programs, available in all Australian jurisdictions, provide offenders an opportunity to avoid a criminal record or have a reduced sentence by meeting certain treatment and training requirements. Diversion can occur at any point—pre-arrest, pre-trial, pre-sentence, post-sentence and pre-release.
A range of diversionary programs are used to address the contact with and progression through the juvenile and criminal justice systems by Indigenous Australians. This is in accordance with the National Indigenous Law and Justice Framework, endorsed by the Australian governments in 2009 (SCAG WGIJ 2009), which addresses unacceptably high levels of incarceration of Indigenous Australians.
This resource sheet reviews evidence for the functioning and effectiveness of various diversionary programs in the context of Indigenous contact with the justice systems. These include both mainstream and Indigenous-specific programs.
- What we know
- What we don’t know
- Trends in Indigenous imprisonment
- Need for diversion programs
- Diversionary programs in Australia
- Effectiveness of diversionary programs
- Characteristics of effective diversionary programs
Diverting young offenders
- Young Indigenous offenders
Access to and the use of mainstream diversion programs by Indigenous clients
- Barriers to access
- Participation and completion
Indigenous-specific diversionary programs
- Effectiveness of Aboriginal courts
- Effectiveness of Indigenous-specific alcohol and substance use reduction programs
Gaps in the evidence base
- Data gaps
- Measures and indicators
- Evaluation designs and methodologies
- Program attributes
- Where to from here?
Appendix A: Mainstream diversionary programs
Appendix B: Indigenous-specific diversionary programs
Appendix C: Additional relevant material in the Clearinghouse
End matter: Acknowledgments; Terminology; Funding; Suggested citation; Copyright