This paper compares the recidivism rates of Aboriginal offenders sentenced to imprisonment with those placed on community based orders. This research was prompted by recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody which called for an understanding of the effectiveness of non-custodial orders for Aboriginal offenders. The sample was comprised of male Aboriginal offenders placed on either probation or community service or released from custody after serving between 1 month and 2 years imprisonment. Overall 43% of the sample were sentenced to imprisonment during the follow-up period which was for 3½ years. Factors found to be associated with recidivism (defined as sentenced to imprisonment) were age, number of prior convictions, previous imprisonment, possession of a juvenile record and education level. After controlling for these factors using multivariate statistical procedures, no differences were found between the recidivism rates of those imprisoned and those placed on community based sanctions. The relationship between recidivism rates and diversion from custody is discussed.