16th Reintegration Puzzle Conference

Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre
1-3 March 2023

Changing Seasons,
Changing Lives

Reducing Recidivism by Eliminating Systemic Racism from the Criminal Justice System

Imprisonment rates, especially of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, have substantially increased since the 1991 publication of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. A significant component of these increases has been recidivism and the expansion of young people’s exposure to the criminal justice system. 

Seasonal policy vacillation and repeated resort to populist “get tough on crime” approaches have worsened the situation. We must break this endless seasonal cycle to intervene before our youth are exposed to the justice system and ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, families, victims, and perpetrators are fully engaged in co-design and co-administration of those interventions. 

The NT Aboriginal Justice Agreement provides a map and pathways for such a transformative approach, centring on identification and elimination of systemic racism that has locked in discrimination and locked up our people at absurd levels to no appreciable benefit to anyone. 


Leanne Liddle
Co-Chair and NT 2022 Aust of the Year
, Menzies School of Health Research

Born and raised in Alice Springs, Central Arrernte woman Leanne Liddle has a passion for justice. As Director of the Aboriginal Justice Unit, she’s travelled thousands of kilometres to meet and listen to Aboriginal communities across the Northern Territory. Leanne is the driving force behind the Northern Territory Aboriginal Justice Agreement, which, in partnership with Aboriginal people aims to:

  • reduce imprisonment rates
  • increase Aboriginal leadership and;
  • improve justice outcomes for Aboriginal Territorians.

Leanne was South Australia’s first Aboriginal policewoman. During her decade of service, she experienced racism and abuse that she fought and used to fuel her passion to make a difference in justice. Leanne went on to complete a law degree and has since worked for the United Nations, and in several high-profile government roles, before joining the Aboriginal Justice Unit in 2017. Leanne is committed to empowering Aboriginal Territorians with justice solutions that will work where others have failed.