Justspeak’s higher public profile will speak to a New Generation
The Robson Hanan Trust, the legal umbrella for both Rethinking Crime and Punishment and JustSpeak, recently decided to shift the focus of its activities toward Justspeak, a network of young people speaking to, and speaking up for a new generation of thinkers who want change in our criminal justice system.
“It started to make sense about a year ago to make the shift”, says Kim Workman, who founded both initiatives. “When we established Rethinking in 2008, it was the only voice outside of the Sensible Sentencing Trust that was regularly speaking out on criminal justice issues. Our goal was to increase the level and depth of public debate and dialogue on key issues, and that has been largely achieved. Today, there is a wide range of organisations and individuals who engage publicly on these issues. One measure of our success has been that the media frequently contact us, not for a 15 second sound byte, but to seek our advice on the best person to contact about an issue”.
The Rethinking ‘back-room’ functions will continue; our research data base ‘Te Pataka’ and submissions to Select Committees and Commissions of Inquiry, but will be subsumed under the Justspeak mantle. Rethinking stalwarts will continue to support the growing numbers of new generation thinkers, as they take the lead.
Justspeak has been a huge success, with over 100 active participants in Wellington and Auckland, and about 80 in Christchurch. A campus branch was recently established at Victoria University. We realised that Justspeak was occupying an important niche within the reform space – one that represents a new generation of voters. We needed to expand on that.”
Julia Whaipooti, a young lawyer, who was recently unanimously voted in as Chairperson of the Robson Hanan Trust, considers that the Trust has facilitated a credible voice in the criminal justice conversation. “Much of that is owed to the huge contribution made by Kim. It is a great privilege to be appointed Chairperson and we aim to continue steering the waka towards becoming a more just Aotearoa. We are currently advertising for a Director. The next few months will see a tighter governance structure, bolstered by a structure of supporters and advisers.”
Former Chairperson, Sharron Cole, has endorsed the move. “I have enjoyed working with Kim over recent years – but both of us could see the shifting environment, and the last thing we wanted, was to end up looking tired, and repeating the same old mantras. We figured that a vital new voice was needed, and Justspeak was it.”