Justice Reinvestment Program in Bourke NSW & Implications on Local Youth
Justice Reinvestment Program in Bourke NSW & Implications on Local Youth


A small country town in NSW Australia, Bourke records very high youth crime rates and jail population, when compared to the remainder of the country. To tackle the specific causes for such high rates, a Justice Reinvestment Program has been designed, involving all actors of the local community (Police, Education, Local Elders, Community Members) and focusing on prevention rather than repression.

Model Explanation

This simple model aims at depicting patterns in crime and redemption behaviour; and how local actions, investments and resources can impact Bourke youth, positively or negatively. Multiple variables can be manipulated to assess results and outcomes.

  • Youth Population – total youth population in the town of Bourke
  • Disengaged Youth – youth showing a Negative Behaviour. They have either left school, are affected by drug and/or alcohol consumption, and/or domestic violence. They need to be taken care of, otherwise they might engage in offences
  • Problem Youth – youth having committed an offence
  • Court Appearance – Problem Youth having been arrested, thanks to local police. Stock is affected by Police Budget variable
  • Jailed – youth having been convicted and sent to prison
  • Youth in Community Programs – youth population either out of prison and repenting; or Problem Youth enrolling in Community Activity
  • Engaged Youth – youth showing a Positive Behaviour. The final objective of this Justice Reinvestment program

  • School Attendance – a critical factor to re-engage Disengaged Youth
  • Crime Rate – percentage of Disengaged Youth committing offences
  • Police Budget – affects number of Problem Youth being brought to justice. Can be manipulated between 0 (absolutely no police in Bourke) to 100 (local police reinforcement and 24/7 surveillance), both being theoretical options
  • Reoffending Rate – percentage of Youth committing offences again, after their release from Jail
  • Community Programs Funding – amount spent on various community programs, such as training and apprenticeship; counselling; preventive police home visits; learner driver classes; sports; and cultural connections program. Funding impacts 3 types of Youth: 
  1. Disengaged Youth joining back community
  2. Problem Youth entering Community Programs
  3. Youth repenting after being released from Jail, and entering Community Programs 

  • Bourke Youth Population = 1.000
Below coefficients and initial values were arbitrarily chosen but can be modified using sliders, to estimate influence and impact:
  • Crime rate in Disengaged Youth = 70%
  • Reoffending Rate = 30%
  • Police Budget = 40
  • Community Programs Funding = 60


There is no silver bullet solution to the youth crime problem in Bourke NSW. However, with the suggested combination of Police Budget and Community Program Funding, positive results appear from Year 3 onwards: even with the occasional spike of reoffenders and subsequent Problem Youth, overall Engaged Youth population increases, reaching 70% of total Youth Population on Year 4 and increasing.

Community Programs Funding has the biggest impact towards the program objective, as it helps creating positive reinforcement and life opportunities for Bourke youth at different disengagement stages.

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