The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO has urged Federal, State and Territory governments to genuinely consider the Australian Law Reform Commission’s report into the over-representation of Indigenous people in custody.
The report, tabled in Federal Parliament today, contains 35 recommendations to address community safety and imprisonment rates amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Commissioner June Oscar said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults make up around 2% of the national population but 27% of the total prison population.
“It’s a sad reality that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, many of whom are mothers, are 21.2 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous women. This is unacceptable and is certainly contributing to our children being removed from their families and put into care at ever increasing numbers.
“The Australian Human Rights Commission wholeheartedly supports the report’s calls for a national inquiry into child protection laws and processes affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. We must embrace strategies aimed at early intervention and family supports within the child welfare and justice spaces,” she said.
Commissioner Oscar has backed calls for an independent justice reinvestment body to be established to help reduce the high levels of contact between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the justice system.
“The Australian Human Rights Commission has long supported a justice reinvestment approach that addresses the social determinants of health and invests in the expertise provided by Indigenous organisations.”
Commissioner Oscar also echoed her support for community sentencing options and for the introduction of justice targets, a measure called for by successive Social Justice Commissioners within the Closing the Gap Strategy.
Commissioner Oscar thanked Judge Matthew Myers AM for his leadership throughout the Inquiry.
“I urge all governments to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their organisations in realising the report’s recommendations, particularly in developing justice targets, within the Federal government’s Closing the Gap Refresh process.
“This report provides an impetus for change and represents an important opportunity to transform the narrative regarding Indigenous peoples and justice systems in this country. I sincerely hope the recommendations are genuinely considered and appropriately implemented,” she said.
You can download a copy of the ALRC report here https://www.alrc.gov.au/publications/indigenous-incarceration-report133
Media contact: Lindy Kerin 0430 366 529