Smart Justice


About the Smart Justice Coalition

Smart Justice is coalition of over 60 organisations led by the Federation, committed to shaping the agenda on criminal justice around fairness and equality. We are committed to criminal justice policies that reduce crime, are based on evidence and comply with human rights obligations. We need a justice system that is fair and inclusive while creating opportunities for everyone to thrive.

The Government should transform our justice system. Building a fair community means addressing crime before it happens. Early intervention. Diversion. Rehabilitation.

The evidence shows that economic inequality and entrenched poverty promote crime.[1] Courts and elected officials disproportionately send Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those with drug dependencies to prison.

It is clear that we need to address systemic racism, entrenched poverty and other forms of disadvantage if we want to tackle crime. Only when we fund services properly and distribute opportunities fairly can we reduce offending.

A fair Victoria requires justice reinvestment: the government should prioritise community-based programs that deal with the underlying causes of crime, such as drug dependency, poverty and homelessness.[2] Justice reinvestment strategies have a proven track record of reducing offending, while prisons have consistently failed to make the community safer.[3] Employment, healthcare and education have much more long-term value to the community than more and larger prisons.

Smart Justice is supported by a coalition of organisations led by the Federation of Community Legal Centres (Victoria) Inc, the peak body for Victoria’s 50 community legal centres.

The organisations involved in Smart Justice have a vast array of experience working in the criminal justice system with those affected by it: victims, offenders and others. We know the impact of crime and we are passionate about promoting safe and vibrant communities. That’s why we support Smart Justice.

Smart Justice was made possible with funding support from the Reichstein Foundation, Portland House Foundation, Australian Communities Foundation (Peter Griffin Family) Fund and the Myer Foundation.


[1] Pablo Fajnzybler, Daniel Lederman and Norman Loayza, ‘Inequality and Crime’ (2002) 45 The Journal of Law and Economics 1.

[2] See, for example, Kim Williams, Jennifer Poyser and Kathryn Hopkins, ‘Accommodation, Homelessness and Reoffending of Prisoners. Results from the Surveying Prisoner Crime Reduction Survey (2012, UK Ministry of Justice).

[3] Melanie Schwartz, ‘Building communities, not prisons: Justice reinvestment and indigenous over-imprisonment’ (2010) 14(1) Australian Indigenous Law Review 2, 2.

Smart Justice for Women Link

Smart Justice for Women

Smart Justice for Women (SJFW) is a subcommittee under the broader Smart Justice Coalition and is coordinated by the Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria and the Law and Advocacy Centre for Women.

Smart Justice for Young People Link

Smart Justice for Young People

Smart Justice for Young People is a coalition of over 40 leading social services, health, legal, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and youth advocacy organisations working together to create change for children and young people who come into contact with the justice system.


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