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STANDING COMMITTEE ON ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER AFFAIRS
07/05/2010
Involvement of Indigenous juveniles and young adults in the criminal justice system

CHAIR —Professor Chris Cunneen, as I know, has been teaching criminology at the University of Sydney and has been director of the Sydney Institute of Criminology there for quite some years. As I understand it, he arrived at James Cook University about five minutes ago. His evidence, as I understand it, will be of a more general nature and may well also be related to the fact that he is doing a particular study into the Australian prison system at the moment. I take it, Professor Cunneen, that we should take advantage of your general understanding of these matters for the purposes of our later consideration, but of course we are interested in the rate of imprisonment and in the fact that it has actually been increasing amongst Aboriginal people in recent times, notwithstanding the substantial investment of resources in programs that are at least in principle designed to reduce social disruption in Aboriginal communities and, in consequence, rates of imprisonment. My interest is in getting your more general evidence about the kinds of key drivers that exist in offending behaviour and your ideas about why it is that there is such an overrepresentation and, perhaps, what might be done about it. Probably the best thing to do is ask you to make an opening statement, and then we will have a discussion.

Prof. Cunneen —Thanks. I think the first thing it is worth doing is probably to say a little bit about the Australian Prison Project, for which I am one of the chief investigators, along with Eileen Baldry, David Brown and Alex Steel, all from the University of New South Wales, and Mark Brown from the University of Melbourne. The Australian Prison Project is looking at the growth, development and changes in prisons in Australia over the last 20 to 25 years and is trying to explain why it is that incarceration rates have gone up not only for Indigenous people but also for non-Indigenous people. I would refer the committee, as well, to the website that the Australian Prison Project has established: that is app.unsw.edu.au. There is a considerable amount of information there. I have also provided two papers to the committee, one of which is an article to be published in the Sydney Law Review and the other of which is a paper from the Australian Institute of Criminology Conference specifically on Indigenous juvenile justice.

The Australian Prison Project—I will speak generally, but there is far more considered and factual information available on the website—has looked at changes in remand rates and changes in bail legislation as one of the drivers of the increase in imprisonment rates. We have considered, I think, the sorts of evidence that the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has raised in Sydney—that is, that one of the key reasons for the increase in Indigenous imprisonment is not that Indigenous people are committing more offences but that it is more likely than ever that they will be sentenced to imprisonment as a decision of the court and that the length of time that they will spend in prison has increased. So the issue arises because proportionally more people are being sent to prison by the courts and being sent there for longer periods of time, rather than as a result of offending more.

When talking about overrepresentation in incarceration rates generally, it is important to acknowledge that ultimately the number of people we have in prison is a result of the judiciary and the government; it is not a function of crime. That is one thing that many criminologists will say. The common understanding is that punishment is somehow related to crime. We need to understand that imprisonment and punishment are a result of government policy either directly or perhaps indirectly, through the way government might influence the judiciary.

One of the other things which we have considered and which is on the APP website is specific state and territory policies in relation to Indigenous people. The paper I have given to the committee, which is to be published in the Sydney Law Review, looks at Indigenous policy frameworks in the states and territories and the way they have developed, particularly since the 1997 ministerial meeting in Canberra, where all states and territories, except for the Northern Territory, made a commitment to introduce justice agreements. We have provided analysis of that. In a nutshell, our argument is that those jurisdictions that have been most considered in terms of developing justice agreements—and I would put Victoria at the top of the list—are also the jurisdictions that have the lowest imprisonment rates not only of Indigenous people but of people more generally.

We argue that the development of negotiated agreements with Indigenous organisations and a considered policy framework can have a clear influence on reducing the number of Aboriginal people in prison, and that is demonstrated in Victoria, as an example. To provide some content to that, if you look specifically at Indigenous juvenile incarceration rates, you will see that the rate in Victoria is about 3½ times lower than the rate in New South Wales. Unless you want to argue that Indigenous young people are 3½ times more criminal in New South Wales than in Victoria, you need to focus on what it is about government policy that can either create benefit or create detriment to Indigenous people and Indigenous communities.

My focus as a criminologist and a non-Indigenous person is on government policy and how government policy works or does not work, and there are a couple of other tensions that are important in terms of the way governments have responded to juvenile offending. There is a tension between therapeutic programs that are being introduced now specifically in relation to Indigenous young people by experts within departments and the role of Indigenous communities in dealing with young people. Departments want gold-standard, evaluated programs that they control, and that tends to lock out community participation in terms of dealing with young people.

There is also a very different approach in healing programs that have been developed by Indigenous people and Indigenous communities, like Journey to Respect, Ending Family Violence, Ending Offending, Rekindling the Spirit and Red Dust Healing. There is a tension between those sorts of programs, which are about healing, and the cognitive behavioural programs, the therapeutic programs, which start from a very different point. There is a need to question whether the types of programs that we use and that are in favour for a number of reasons really benefit Indigenous kids the way we want them to.

I have a couple of points on diversion and legal services, and then I will stop. The evidence has been there for a long time, at least 15 or 16 years, that Indigenous young people do not tend to benefit in the same way from diversionary schemes. There are questions about availability—that is, resourcing, particularly in remote rural areas—of those diversionary options. You will hear the same thing, irrespective of whether you are in Cape York or the Kimberley, about what is actually available in those remote areas. There is the question of utilisation of diversion, and that comes back to issues around the use of police discretion and the extent to which there is equity in terms of police use of diversion.

There is the issue of whether there are procedural aspects of diversionary schemes that actually limit their availability. For instance, if they are available only to first offenders, that tends to exclude Indigenous young people because they are more likely to have an offending history. The final point about diversions is the extent to which, again, they allow community involvement. To what extent can Indigenous people at a community level become involved in the diversionary schemes that may be in place? You may have legislation, as you do in Queensland, that allows cautioning to involve the participation of Indigenous elders, but we do not know whether in reality that occurs very often. What is there that can actually involve the community in the diversionary schemes?

The last point I will make is in relation to Aboriginal legal service funding. It is an issue that is raised often. I think it would be negligent of me not to raise it again here. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services, I think, find it difficult to provide effective representation for Indigenous people. I think that is partly related to the funding, and the funding then relates to issues such as the solicitors that they can employ. We know solicitors are coming into and out of the legal services very quickly. They are inexperienced, because they are not paid even at the same level as solicitors in the Legal Aid Commission, let alone in the DPP or in private practice. The ability to represent Indigenous young people, I think, also relates to this issue of incarceration. It is not just about whether an Indigenous young person is found guilty or innocent; it is about issues such as proper representation. Have the proper assessments been done? Is the court, when it is sentencing, properly informed in relation to the young person who is there? The difficulties that the ATSILS face in representing Indigenous young people work against a fair and equitable system, and I think that is something that needs to be addressed. They are the main points that I wanted to raise.

CHAIR —Could you be a little more specific. A key element in the difference, say, between the rates of incarceration in New South Wales and Victoria, as I understand it, involves the bail laws in those two places. Can you talk a little bit more about the difference between them?

Prof. Cunneen —Sure. There are the legal requirements in relation to bail and the way they have changed in New South Wales with various amendments, particularly from 2003 onwards, which may have made it more difficult to grant bail and have led to a significant increase in the remand population. There are also, I think, the issues around policies and practice. The use in Victoria of the Koori justice workers to provide supervision in the community, I think, has been an effective way of providing support for young people who might otherwise have been refused bail or might have been unable to meet those bail conditions. So I think there is a legislative issue as well as a policy and practice issue there.

Mr LAMING —I will ask about two things. You mentioned the difference between single case management—which is off the shelf, westernised and gold standard—and allowing Indigenous people to sort this sort of stuff out for themselves. It strikes me that, apart from government itself, about the only completely unreconstructed element of white imposed society is our courts. Everything else is modified—education, health and child welfare. All of these things are modified somewhat for Indigenous conditions, but courts are not. One option is to keep banging away trying to reform the courts, but the other one is to build up commissions that do a lot of this work on the community before these people turn up to court at all. I am not talking about removing the court structures, but why can’t we get to a point where these building commissions and these people trained in mediation from the communities can sort this all out amongst themselves for everything except grievous bodily harm and above, rape and child offences and deal with all of that—bring a letter down to court and say, ‘This is what we’ve agreed’?

Prof. Cunneen —In terms of the courts, there have been developments around the Murri Court and the Koori Court and Koori Children’s Court in Victoria. I have not mentioned them previously, but they are definitely worth supporting in terms of the way they can bring Indigenous people and elders into the court process. I think the greatest difficulty—it is a difficulty you confront as soon as you arrive in Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw or Aurukun, if you are talking about Cape York—is that people in those communities also need resources. I do not mean necessarily financial resources but a whole range of social resources as well to be able to deal with the problems that they face. I certainly do not want to paint a simplistic picture where we can hand this problem back to a community that is ill equipped to deal with it. So, while I would certainly advocate greater community control, I only say that in the context of actually providing important support services.

Mr LAMING —Philosophically, the problem for us, as white experts, is that we cannot bring ourselves to admit that potentially outcomes might be slightly poorer from the way we view them but that it will never happen unless we manage to find the courage to let go. So the question is, with these developing commissions that have worked fairly well and the increasing number of people who are mediating, at what point are we prepared to say legislatively, ‘We’re going to really entrust these commissions’? We know they are going to make some mistakes but, if we wait for some of the things you are describing, we are talking about another generation. Maybe we need to take that leap.

Prof. Cunneen —It is difficult to imagine things getting any worse in terms of the way we are going, whether you look at recidivism rates or the increasing numbers of young people and adults that are being incarcerated, and that is recreating a problem for future generations.

Mr LAMING —I have to make sure the committee’s report is not filled with a whole lot of anodyne statements about more consultation, more resources and more money for prevention, so what can change? Let us face it: this Cape York experiment has had significant benefits. Sometimes things just have to be disruptive, so what would be your proposal—that we simply cannot do anything until capacity is higher in communities and to keep using existing courts?

Prof. Cunneen —No. But, if you are thinking about distinctive communities like the ones in the cape, the Kimberley or Central Australia, capacity has to be increased. That is one area where Indigenous young people are coming into the system, but there are also much broader areas in terms of rural and urban areas. The justice system operates more generally in those areas in a way that works against Indigenous people. Going back to the issues, say, around the bail legislation, there is nothing specific in the bail legislation that says Aboriginal people or Torres Strait Islander people should be refused bail. But, because Indigenous people are among the most marginalised people in this country, the impact on them is more extreme than it is on others. So there are quite specific legislative things that can be done at a state and territory level, and what the role of the Commonwealth is in that is another question.

There are issues around programs and support. Murri Court, Circle Sentencing, Koori Court and similar types of courts in the Territory, South Australia and Western Australia have had a beneficial impact, so they are issues that can be taken up and supported. Specifically thinking about the Family Responsibilities Commission, I certainly do not hold myself out to be an expert on the work that it has done, but it would seem to me that any extension of that process needs to be one that is supported by the communities in which it operates. To the extent that it may work well in the four communities that are currently part of the FRC, they are communities that have supported its introduction. I do not expect that it would work well in a community that resisted it and had it imposed from the outside. These types of developments need to be organic to the extent that you do not impose them from the outside but they develop out of the community.

Mr LAMING —Would most of them be pretty happy or reluctant to have more of the judicial process being grassroots and Indigenous led?

Prof. Cunneen —I feel reluctant to answer that as a non-Indigenous person, but my observation would be: with support, yes, and for some offences. There are some offences where I think people would prefer to have the outside justice system intervene. They may be offences related to serious violence, for example. So there is not a blanket answer to that question.

Mr TURNOUR —There is a growing perception in the community—and I get it because I am a politician out there on the door step and I listen to the local radio—that we are too soft on young offenders. Young Indigenous offenders, in particular, get mentioned in communities like this. What does the evidence say about actually taking a harder line in sending people to prison or remand? And what does the evidence say about making sure that somebody does not reoffend? Where is the best government policy in your experience?

Prof. Cunneen —Certainly evidence looking at police cautioning and youth justice conferencing—restorative justice models—has shown that young people who go through those alternative processes are less likely to reoffend than those who go before court. A step further than that; we also know that those young people who are remanded in custody or sentenced to detention are more likely to come back into the system once they have been placed in it.

There is no good evidence to show that ideas around imprisonment or detention have an effect as a deterrent. In fact, the evidence suggests the opposite: people are more likely to come back into the system rather than be deterred. We do know that restorative justice-type programs like youth justice conferencing have lower re-offending rates than equivalent young people who are processed through the courts. There is good evidence, I think, to suggest that you have improved outcomes by looking at those alternatives.

I would also say—and I think this is the hard sell as a politician—that none of these thing work perfectly. You send a young person before a youth justice conference and perhaps the likelihood of reoffending is 30 per cent rather than 45 per cent if they go before the courts. I think the community has to be educated that, in a sense, no matter what we do in terms of programs and policies there will be young people who reoffend. What we need to do is think about those which have the best outcomes and promote those.

Mr TURNOUR —You mentioned some before—can you go into a bit more detail about somebody who causes property crime and who is dissociated from their family? What are some of the interventions that are non-prison or remand which you think have worked when it may have been their third or fourth offence? Can you flesh a bit more detail out?

Prof. Cunneen —The people who support youth justice conferencing and restorative justice will argue that you should keep trying with it, even if the person has reoffended. It should not be a program that simply stops after the first offence—particularly with young people. The evidence suggests that young people mature out of crime. They may reoffend two or three times, but I think that the worst outcome would be to incarcerate them and then entrench that connection with detention and adult imprisonment.

I do not see that alternatives like youth justice conferencing need to stop at a certain point after a second or third offence. With property crime, one of the most important things about conferencing and restorative justice generally is that you bring a young person face-to-face with the victim of the crime. That young person, hopefully—and we cannot be certain that it will happen, but hopefully—will accept some responsibility for the negative impact of that crime on the victim, and that will change the person’s behaviour.

It will not happen in every case but the evidence suggests that it is more likely to happen through that process than a court process. The court process, as I am sure you are aware, is going to spend—what did we say?—three, five, seven or 10 minutes talking to the young person in the hope that whatever comes out of that process will reform them. I just think the evidence shows that in most cases it is not going to happen. It will be things which are extraneous to that, or interventions like youth justice conferencing that reform.

Mr TURNOUR —We have also heard evidence that we really should focus around first offences and people. From your understanding of current government policy and research, how are we focusing in terms of investments and whether they relate to people on their first offence or subsequent offence? What is your experience, and have you got any suggestions in relation to how we could improve the situation?

Prof. Cunneen —There is a lot of debate around that and I do not have an unequivocal answer to it. One argument is that you should focus resources on people who are repeat offenders—people who are in there for the third, fourth or fifth time—rather than first offenders, because a significant proportion of first offenders will not go on to reoffend. I think that argument holds true for the general community, but it does not hold true if you look more specifically at Indigenous young people because many Indigenous young people will go on to reoffend. I guess that is not a clear answer to your question, but perhaps we need to think about the focus of the resources in a different way when we specifically think about Indigenous young people rather than the general population.

Mr TURNOUR —So you are saying the evidence is quite different for Indigenous populations, as compared to the mainstream—that is, Indigenous people who have offended once are much more likely to reoffend.

CHAIR —Why is that? Is that anything to do with cultural background, or is it to do with levels of disadvantage?

Mr LAMING —If I could add to the added-on question, I do not think we have any evidence about the effectiveness of these interventions at these stages. We are just aware of recidivism rates, but that is not a measure of the effectiveness of your intervention. So I do not think there is any evidence to support any of what we are talking about or asking. I am not aware of any.

Prof. Cunneen —To give you an example of youth justice conferencing, the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research did an evaluation matching—

Mr LAMING —A control study?

Prof. Cunneen —Yes—young people that went before conferencing and young people that went before courts. I do not have the percentages in front of me, but roughly 30 per cent of those that went before conferences reoffended and 45 per cent of the matched group that went before the courts reoffended. The issue is whether you want to use reoffending as a measure of effectiveness. Overwhelmingly, that is the measure that is used.

Mr LAMING —But that was not broken down into the number of times you had reoffended, because the statistics simply would not be powerful enough to arrive at a conclusion. Your numbers would not be sufficient.

CHAIR —I think it did.

Mr LAMING —I do not think you would have the numbers to make that statement. It is okay to look at all of your recidivism rates between the two groups but, the minute you break them up into first, second, third and fourth offenders, your subpopulations become so small—

Prof. Cunneen —About 15,000 young people go through the Children’s Court in New South Wales annually.

Mr LAMING —But your control is only those who are doing your youth conferencing, so the question is: how many did you have doing youth conferencing who are Indigenous? This is a pretty important point. Is the evidence, once you break it up into those cohorts, powerful enough to make that claim?

Prof. Cunneen —The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research would argue that it is, and they broke it up by Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

Mr LAMING —And then by number of times reoffending?

Prof. Cunneen —They use a survival rate analysis, and that is based on time to reoffending. Survival rate analysis is based on the period of time after the appearance to the first reoffence. So it is not open-ended, in the sense that there has to be a time frame.

Mr LAMING —We are having this discussion about where is the most efficient point to intervene but, if you have not done the studies on the number of times you have reoffended, then we cannot answer your question, unless you can tell me that evidence is available.

Mr TURNOUR —I would not mind hearing from the witness. We can have our debates and opinions, but I would be pretty keen to hear from the witness. There is a pretty straightforward question that I have been trying to get to, and Professor Cunneen obviously has a lifetime experience that he is trying to share with us. I would be interested in his gut feeling, just as we are interested in those of other people.

Prof. Cunneen —The basic question is that, if we are talking about the general population, perhaps resources should not be focused on first offenders, because most first offenders will not reoffend. There are slight variations on the proportions, but that generally holds true. Most Indigenous first offenders will come back again, so there is a good argument for focusing resources at that point.

Mr TURNOUR —For example, there is a lot of stigma associated with a white Anglo male going to prison at 15 or 16 because the vast majority of people in that cultural community do not go to prison, as compared to an Indigenous person, who may come from a community where a higher proportion of people go to prison, and so there is a greater acceptance of that. Is there a community norm that helps drive that reoffending? Is there a community norm that helps people in the mainstream not reoffend that is different to the one in the Indigenous community?

Prof. Cunneen —There is not much doubt that the stigma associated with going to prison or detention is lesser in Indigenous communities, because Indigenous people are far more used to, over generations, incarceration. Without wishing to go off on a tangent, that is one of the reasons why the criminal justice system does not have the same legitimacy in Indigenous communities as it might have in non-Indigenous communities.

Mr TURNOUR —Just picking up on that then: so, if you are an Indigenous person and you are confronted with significant people in your community, in a peer sense, who are telling you that you are doing the wrong thing and this is not an acceptable thing, which is I suppose what happens in conferencing, the Family Responsibility Commission and all those sorts of things, as a general principle that may be one way to reduce people’s chances in the same way that someone in the mainstream would have the community norms clearer to them just from their life experience. I am putting words in your mouth now.

Prof. Cunneen —No. Absolutely, and I will give a very quick example. A couple of years ago I sat in on the Murri Court in Townsville. A year 12 student had been charged with receiving stolen goods. It was a mobile phone. There was no allegation that he had stolen it, but he had a stolen phone and was charged with having the goods in his custody. The magistrate referred that matter to the community justice group that was there and the community justice group invited me to sit in on their meeting with that young person. We went to a room outside of the court. The community justice group had the young person’s mother and grandparents there and they spent an hour explaining to that young person why he should be setting a standard—he was a year 12 student, he was someone who should be looked up to amongst other Indigenous students at the high school. They spent an hour with him talking about it and going through the issues. If that had stayed in the normal court, it would have been dealt with in five minutes. That is why I think, to relate it back to your point, there is a sense of legitimacy and ownership of a process which does not necessarily exist in the mainstream courts.

CHAIR —Yet the problem is endlessly complicated, isn’t it? There is a recent evaluation that I have only read about in the newspapers of Koori Court like arrangements in Kalgoorlie and Geraldton in Western Australia, which have by far the worst incarceration rates, that says they did not have much effect on levels of recidivism. There is also an analysis by the bureau of crime statistics of Circle Sentencing courts in New South Wales that says they have not had much effect on the levels of recidivism. I remember it because I had had hopes that there would be a contrary outcome. There was a similar study of the Koori Court in Victoria. None of the attorneys-general involved have said that they should close the courts. They have all said there are other values to them but it reminds me of how extraordinarily difficult the issue we are dealing with actually is. Perhaps what we have to do is accept that it will take a long time and that is all there is about it.

Prof. Cunneen —The New South Wales study in relation to Circle Sentencing needs to be looked at over a longer period of time. I cannot say any more than that. There is a great deal of support in each jurisdiction I have been to—Victoria, New South Wales or Queensland in terms of Koori, Murri or circle sentencing courts—in the Indigenous communities and—

CHAIR —And amongst white lawyers.

Prof. Cunneen —I was going to say amongst magistrates. Also in terms of the legal profession that is involved in this, magistrates have to deal with this day in and day out. I think they are probably one group who are as profoundly disaffected with what they have to do as anyone else.

CHAIR —For our own immediate benefit, could you comment a little in general terms on the evidence that you have accumulated about the effects of prison on recidivism rates?

Prof. Cunneen —My comments will be short. Again we know that about two-thirds of people in prison on any one day have been in prison previously, it is around 70 per cent. We also know from the ABS study that about 40 per cent of people who are imprisoned will go on to be re-imprisoned. So whatever figure you want to use shows that people go in and out of jail pretty frequently. Those figures are more extreme for Indigenous prisoners.

CHAIR —The bureau of crime statistics in New South Wales, which we are quoting for reasons that are not coincidental, has made a study to suggest that, if you want to reduce the imprisonment rate, the best thing to do is to focus on those who have reoffended. That in turn, however, implies very high levels of resources to be used within the prison system, does it not?

Prof. Cunneen —I think so. I think again we need to distinguish between the general prison population and the Indigenous prison population. This goes back to issues around programs. We know that programs work. CUBIT is one example of a sex offenders program. We know that sex offenders who complete CUBIT are less likely to go on to reoffend than sex offenders who do not complete it. That is a good news story in a sense, but the bad news story is that we know that Indigenous people in prison are less likely to do programs. There are a range of reasons for that. That is why I think we need to keep in mind that we cannot assume that what we can say about the general population is true for Indigenous people particularly.

CHAIR —From our perspective that is a critical observation. It is not really fair to ask this but do you have any more suggestions about how that extra attention might be paid?

Prof. Cunneen —It goes back to the early point I was making about the nature of programs. Most therapeutic interventions or cognitive behavioural programs rely on certain levels of literacy. That is an issue that impacts to a greater extent on Indigenous people within the criminal justice system than non-Indigenous people. We know that everyone in prison has problems with literacy and numeracy but those problems are greater amongst Indigenous people in prison. I think the evidence is there.

It is similar with applications for parole. Indigenous prisoners are more likely to go into prison and do their time, not do programs or apply for parole. They just do their time. So whatever benefits there may have been in terms of successfully completing a program either for parole and release or for actually changing behaviour are not necessarily flowing through. We need to think carefully about why that is the case in terms of the programs.

On the other side of that there are a range of programs that Indigenous people have developed. They do not tend to be evaluated, implemented or available in the same way but they certainly anecdotally have good responses. We need to think about how we address that issue. We cannot assume that the programs that are there will necessarily benefit Indigenous people in the criminal justice system.

CHAIR —Anecdotally I have directly seen it to be so—people who are very recalcitrant and in prison for long terms responding, for instance, to a program which is specifically focused around Aboriginal culture in some way—

Prof. Cunneen —We do have a selection of those programs now. If we were talking about this 10 years ago there may have been one or two programs like Ending Offending, but now there are at least half a dozen programs that I am aware of. There is the family wellbeing program, which I think people are trying to start up here at Lotus Glen. In all the jurisdictions there have been developments in that area. It is something that should be supported.

Mr LAMING —I was trying to assist my colleague not debate him. There is a very important epidemiological point that remained unclear at the end of that questioning—the sense that because Indigenous detainees are more likely to reoffend, therefore, we need to be intervening with conferencing or Circle Sentencing at a different time. I am trying to clarify the survival curves for the likelihood of reoffending have not been broken up according to the number of times an Indigenous person has reoffended—if it has, it is news to me and you need to let me know. If not, there is no case for intervening with conferencing at any particular number of reoffences by an Indigenous person. I was not trying to be belligerent but the data is not telling us that. The data at the moment is telling us that conferencing is potentially more effective and the survival curves to reoffending may be longer but we are not making any claim that intervening at a particular point is more effective.

Prof. Cunneen —No, not in terms of the—

Mr LAMING —The number of times they have reoffended.

Prof. Cunneen —That is true.

Mr LAMING —It is very important, because we do not want a recommendation saying that conferencing is more effective at first offence than at second or third—it is effective throughout the number of reoffences.

Prof. Cunneen —But with the way that the justice system operates it is more likely to be used at those earlier stages because either the police, the magistrates or the DPP are less likely to agree to an alternative to a court process if the person is already at their third, fourth or fifth point. It tends to happen anyway at that early stage.

CHAIR —Professor Cunneen, we thank you for your observations. While we are about it, we will do whatever is formally necessary to include your papers.

Mr LAMING —You have got two papers?

Prof. Cunneen —Two papers.

Mr LAMING —Can you tell us which is which and where they are going?

Prof. Cunneen —The longer paper by Fiona Allison and me has been submitted to the Sydney Law Review, and the shorter paper was presented to the Australian Institute of Criminology conference.

CHAIR —I need one of the committee members to move that these papers be accepted as exhibits.

Mr LAMING —I will do that.

CHAIR —You do not mind if these are published on the web?

Prof. Cunneen —Not at all.

CHAIR —Thanks, that is terrific.

Prof. Cunneen —Thanks.

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