Children and Prison Program (CAPP) Dubbo
Tightening the weave in the net
In 2013 the Dusseldorp Forum and the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF) made a joint commitment to provide philanthropic support towards reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal children in the juvenile justice system in NSW.
After research and consultation, a Reference Group involving people from the community, Government and academia was formed and Dubbo was chosen as a focus because it had a significant population of Aboriginal young people, some of whom were on track and pursuing positive education and life pathways and others who were coming into repeated contact with the justice system.
In 2014 extensive discussions were held with Dubbo community members and service providers, including young people and families, to tap into local knowledge and understand what was working, what was needed and what could be done to reduce the number of young people coming into custody. A Dubbo Conversations report was produced summarising the outcomes of those discussions. Improving service coordination and collaboration were identified as being key areas for focus.
In August 2015 the Children and Prison Program (CAPP) Working Group was formed. The CAPP Working Group brought together organisations and individuals identified in Dubbo Conversations as being important and effective in supporting young people in Dubbo including local Leaders, the Aboriginal Legal Service, local service providers, Local Council, educational (literacy) experts, the local Police and Juvenile Justice. The objective of the Working Group was to:
- Enhance coordination and collective action among an effective core group, to enhance outcomes for young people at risk of involvement with the justice system
- Advise on how Dusseldorp and VFFF funding could be used to greatest effect in reducing the interaction of Aboriginal children with the justice system.
Dusseldorp and VFFF provided approximately $550,000 in funding over four and a half years to support the CAPP. The funding was used to:
- Employ a local Coordinator based in Dubbo and support the work of the CAPP Working Group
- Support capacity building for local service providers through the provision of connections and coaching and support from organisations (including Collaboration for Impact, The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI), the Regional Innovator’s Network and Back Track)
- Provide a pool of funds ($375,000) to be used by local organisations and collaborative efforts to support young people at risk of involvement with the justice system.
Both Foundations played an active role participating in meetings of the CAPP Reference Group and helping to support and facilitate the work of that group.
Over the last four and a half years the CAPP has:
- Enhanced coordination and collective action among an effective core group of people, organisations and Government service providers in Dubbo, including improved coordination between Police and local service providers
- Enabled the co-design and funding of locally-grown preventative and diversionary programs for young people
- Helped drive a change in Police practices in how they engage with young people, resulting in a decrease in breach of bail charges and a reduction in the number of young people being incarcerated in Orana Juvenile Justice Centre in Dubbo and
- Reductions in youth offending, improved engagement in education and pre-employment programs, improved literacy and employment for young people
Participants in the CAPP Working Group have indicated that they would not have been able to achieve the shifts in collaborative and policing practice and the improvement in outcomes delivered through the Initiative had they not come together through the CAPP. They noted that the role played by the Foundations as committed, neutral conveners was, in many ways equally, if not more, important than the funding provided to support it.
"The establishment of Project Walwaay has been a significant step in police taking a lead role in breaking down barriers with young persons and giving them every chance to succeed in Dubbo. The idea behind the project was certainly influenced by my dealings with the CAPP program and realising that as a person of influence in Dubbo, I really needed to do more to assist our youth, especially those that are the most vulnerable and over-represented in the criminal justice system."