Reduce Text Size (-)Increase Text Size (+)
You are Here: Home >  Our Work >  Aboriginal Incarceration >  Terms of Reference  

Terms of Reference



In recent years, the NSW adult prisoners’ population has increased despite the decrease of juvenile prisoners’ population. Data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) indicate that the rate of increase is higher in Aboriginal adults than in the general adult population, and this disparity is worse for Aboriginal women (83% over 5 years) compared to the Aboriginal male population (40%).

NSW data also indicates a disparity between the remand population and the sentenced-prisoners’ population. While both populations are increasing, the remand population is increasing at a much higher rate. The bail refusal rate at first court appearance in the Aboriginal population (around 23%) is much higher than in the general population (around 12%), and this rate is increasing.

BOCSAR data shows that there is an increased number of first court appearances (i.e. new matters, by about 37%) from 2013-2018 in NSW. It seems that police are increasing enforcement or detection. It’s suspected that increased volume of matters in court is a contributing factor to increasing population. One of the most common offences in court are justice offences (including breach of AVO, suspended sentences & community orders). 

The Australian Law Reform Commission’s 2018 report ‘Pathways to Justice–Inquiry into the Incarceration Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ (ALRC Report 133) is the most recent review of the drivers of over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in detention. It contains 35 recommendations designed to reduce the disproportionate rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and improve community safety. 



To develop strategies and plans (within the capacity of NLAF and its members) to address the problem of Aboriginal overrepresentation in NSW adult prisons by focusing on breaches of conditional liberty.




  1. To identify the key factors and drivers of breaches of conditional liberty.
  2. To develop strategies and plans to reduce breaches of bail.
  3. To develop strategies and plans to ensure appropriate conditions of orders.
  4. To develop strategies and plans to address any other key drivers identified.



The AIWG should be comprised of representatives from the following organisations:

  • Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT
  • Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research
  • Community Legal Centre NSW
  • Law and Justice Foundation of NSW
  • Law Society of NSW
  • Legal Aid NSW
  • NSW Bar Association
  • Public Interest Advocacy Centre


12 months (option to then review and refine terms of reference)




Brendan Thomas, CEO of Legal Aid NSW and Chair of NLAF