In June 2019, the former Premier of New South Wales made reducing reoffending a priority.

The former Premier advised that the target for this priority is to reduce adult reoffending following release from prison by 5 per cent by 2023. Some new counting rules were agreed to ensure we focus on those who commit more serious offences including personal, property and serious drug matters.

A closely related target also set by the former Premier is to reduce domestic violence reoffending by offenders leaving prison by 25 per cent by 2023.

The most recent data from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) shows the annual average reoffending rate for adults exiting custody within 12 months is 28.1 percent. There have been steady decreases in the annual average reoffending rate since the Premier’s Priority was announced in 2019.

The 28.1 percent rate relates to the cohort of prisoners released from custody in the 12-month period up to the end of March 2021.

It is important to note that the target of 25.5 percent was based on a 2017 baseline (26.8 percent), which was chosen as it was the most recently available data at the time the former Premier announced the target.

Unfortunately, the actual reoffending rate had significantly increased between the adopted baseline year and the Premier’s announcement, meaning CSNSW has been tasked with reducing reoffending by 13.8 percent rather than 5 percent..

If the five percent target was applied to the cohort released in the 12 months prior to the Premier’s announcement, then the target would have been 28.1 percent – a result CSNSW achieved in March 2021.

Reducing reoffending is a very significant challenge for all correctional jurisdictions and all communities. Desistance from crime by an individual is a complex, psychosocial process that requires among other things a permanent and positive shift in a person's identity and sense of belonging. This is needed to facilitate reintegration into the community and the establishment of a law-abiding lifestyle.

This process of transition away from crime is different for each individual and is facilitated through social, economic, or other positive life changes that enhance an individual's strengths and build positive social capital and resilience.

With all our rehabilitation efforts, we will pay particular attention to inmates at higher risk of reoffending and focus on two vulnerable groups which are inmates who have a serious mental illness and separately women who are parents.

As part of these reforms, we will work to make prisons better places for achieving rehabilitation outcomes and provide more opportunities for inmates to learn and the chance to change their lives. 

Last updated:

11 May 2023

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