Engaging indigenous communities: towards a policy framework for indigenous community justice programmes

Document Type


Publication details

Ryan, N, Head, B, Keast, RL & Brown, KA 2006, 'Engaging indigenous communities: towards a policy framework for indigenous community justice programmes', Social Policy & Administration, vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 304-321.

Published version available from:


Peer Reviewed



Community engagement has come to the fore as a policy and programme approach that seeks to connect citizens both with each other and with government in order to deliver improved social and economic opportunities and outcomes. This model has become a key aspect of the intervention approach within Indigenous communities and is seen to have particular application in addressing community justice issues. This article examines a suite of community justice initiatives being used in Indigenous communities in Australia with a view to ascertaining how the principles of community engagement are operationalized. The article draws on this information and argues that community engagement is only one aspect of a number of community-oriented justice initiatives currently being applied. These initiatives range from concepts of community as a location, community as an interest group, and the leveraging of community capital so as to tap into and build better and stronger relationships. In so doing, the latter attempts to increase the social infrastructure, resources and capacity of communities. However, despite government attention in this area, there is a lack of a policy and programmatic framework to guide a coherent and apposite approach to issues of community in specific policy settings. The article contributes to the development of a framework that begins the process of differentiating and assessing justice administration interventions.