Justice: African Australians - Compendium (2010)
2010 - African Australians: human rights and social inclusion issues project
A compendium detailing the outcomes of the community and stakeholder consultations and interviews and public submissions
Engaging with the legal system emerged as one of the most significant areas of concern for African Australians in the community consultations.
While feedback in relation to the legal system was actively sought throughout all of the consultations, a number of targeted consultation sessions with
individuals and organisations specifically involved or engaged in the legal system were also undertaken. These included:
- members of the NSW Police Cultural Diversity Team
- focus group with Justice For Refugees Community Educators - Department of Justice
- Office of the Child Safety Commissioner - conducted two workshops with communities
- NSW Department of Justice and Attorney General - Manager, Diversity Unit and Sudanese Community Liaison Officer.
Other stakeholders involved in the consultations included individuals from:
- community legal centres
- human rights advocacy bodies
- private legal practitioners
- legal aid commissions.
MyriaD Consultants and the community representatives on the Steering Committee also attended a one day forum in March 2009 organised by the African
Think Tank Inc (ATT) entitled 'Maximizing the potential of African-Australian Youth: A Community Model to bolster health and legal support'. A
focus group was conducted at the forum with a number of young people in attendance.
9.2 Do you have any comments/ observations/ stories on the experience of African Australians (including African youth) with the legal and justice
Engaging with the legal system emerged as one of the most significant areas of concern for African Australians in the community consultations.
Through the national consultation numerous comments and observations were provided in relation to the experiences of African Australians with the legal
and justice system.
Broadly, key issues related to:
- experiences of discrimination and perceptions of being targeted by police - leading to poor relations with police and transit officers
- no early and diversionary programs for those at risk of offending/re offending
- young people experience difficulties in accessing affordable legal assistance leaving them in situations where they may end up self-representing
- driving infringements, particularly issues relating to driving without a licence
- impact and influence of (negative) pre arrival experiences with law enforcement/legal system
- child protection and family related laws - negative experiences particularly relating to the intervention of child protection agencies
- limited awareness of the laws regarding family and domestic violence - particularly within newly-arrived communities
- overall lack of knowledge and awareness about rights, responsibilities and obligations under the law
- lack of familiarity and understanding of procedural matters relating to legal process, including fines, court orders, warrants and so on
- impact of language, cultural and social barriers
- under reporting as victims of crime.
There were also examples provided by community respondents of positive experiences with the legal system and police, particularly following racist
attacks on the communities. These will be detailed further on in this section.
(i) Lack of awareness of the law
There was overwhelming agreement amongst most community respondents that levels of awareness amongst African Australians of the Australian legal system
and its laws was extremely low. This included both civil and criminal aspects of the legal system.
Examples of situations where community members had inadvertently breached the law due to their lack of awareness or understanding of the Australian
legal system were also frequently cited.
Areas of law most commonly cited included criminal law, child protection law, family law, anti discrimination law, tenancy law, domestic violence laws,
and consumer law.
Lack of access to information on what constitutes an offence, coupled with limited awareness of avenues for redress, were also identified by various
community respondents as sources of considerable confusion and misunderstanding. This lack of knowledge means that African Australians can quickly find
themselves involved in a legal issue, leaving them feeling shocked, anxious and confused:
"Many of us did not know that you needed a license to be able to drive. How easy it is here to get into problems with the law."
(Community respondent, NT)
Participants highlighted that communities have limited access to information about anti discrimination laws and complaints mechanisms and strongly
recommended that greater effort be made by anti discrimination bodies to provide culturally appropriate and translated information on these issues.
"Our young people getting into trouble with the law and then we worry about their future. They are here for a better future. We want to follow the law
but the law here [is] different and so hard for us to understand. Older people need to know more too but it is the youth who really need to know so
that they don't have problems with police because they don't know the system here."
(Community respondent," (Vic)
Young people in the focus groups agreed that they had very limited awareness of their rights and responsibilities and the role of courts, police and
Service providers and stakeholders reiterated the importance of building 'legal literacy' among African Australian communities. They suggested legal
information should be shared with communities on an ongoing basis.
(ii) Experiences with police
Community members made repeated references to what was perceived to be mostly negative experiences of African Australians, particularly youth, with the
legal and justice systems. Broadly, they related to:
- perceptions of racial profiling by police
- over policing and saturation of police in public spaces where young African Australians frequent
- extended surveillance by federal police
Anecdotally, many of the young people reported being the deliberate target of police and security guards, and more recently transit officers.
Generally, both first generation and second generation young people regarded their experience with police and transit officers as negative.
"I don't think there is a day where I haven't been asked to move on, or police have come over to us and asked us why we are hanging around. We do go
around in big groups, but that is normal for us."
(Participant, Youth Focus Group, NSW)
Community respondents raised repeated concerns in relation to the stereotyping of African Australians by police in a range of jurisdictions.
"I think the police officer on the street still thinks that all Sudanese young people are part of a gang and that that they are all into organised
crime and violence. While it's not every police officer, there is still a culture that exists."
(Community leader, South Australia)
There is no doubt that the issue of confidence in the police as a mediating factor in the reporting of racist violence is important because it has the
potential to offer an opportunity for intervention. Participants said programmes are needed to determine effective methods by which confidence in the
police might be improved.
(iii) Racist violence towards African Australians and low levels of reporting of crime
Community respondents provided numerous examples of being subjected to assaults, including racist violence, in various states and territories across
Experiences of violence and harassment took many forms ranging from serious assaults to the more frequent incidents of racial abuse and threatening
behaviour, damage to property, including damage to mosques and churches. Many referred to the stereotyping in the mainstream media and its impact as a
'trigger' to acts of discrimination and racism.
Perceptions of safety and security are a significant factor in the successful settlement and psychological wellbeing of all newly-arrived communities.
Many community respondents stated feeling increasingly subjected to racist violence and most said they were not confident that this could be properly
managed by law enforcement authorities.
Verbal abuse is an aspect of everyday racism for many in the consultations, but on the whole respondents did not consider it worth reporting to the
police because they felt that they either cannot or will not deal with it.
NSW community respondents raised numerous concerns in relation to incidents of attacks where African Australians have been verbally abused, had eggs
thrown at them and have been pelted with beer bottles from passing cars.
Some community respondents made reference to racist leaflets attacking members of the Sudanese and other African communities that had been distributed
in various places in states and territories, for example, around Liverpool and Hoxton Park in NSW and in Melbourne, Victoria. This was becoming an
increasing regular issue for Sudanese and other African communities to confront.
Many of the young people consulted, particularly those from Sudanese and Somali backgrounds, stated that they had been subjected to regular assaults,
such as being pushed and shoved in public places, including schools, because of their appearance.
Several of the youth focus groups (more specifically in Victoria and NSW) also raised issues related to religious discrimination.
There were numerous examples given where people had been assaulted but did not report the assault to police. There were a number of reasons provided by
respondents for their non-reporting, including fear of authorities, fear of being seen to be "making trouble", but the primary reason given was the
lack of confidence that the matter would be properly investigated and followed up:
While there was a general reluctance to report racist incidents by many of the older community respondents participating in the consultations, younger
people were more willing to speak about their experiences. Younger people also emphasised the role that they could play in successfully managing or
Community respondents highlighted their lack of understanding of Australia's court system, and expressed concerns in relation to the impact that this
lack of awareness was having amongst some community members:
"One woman from our community went to the Family Court. She thought she was going to make the court tell her husband to stop drinking. She was told to
fill out some forms and to see a lawyer. She speaks some English so no interpreter was arranged for her. In the end she finally realised she was going
through divorce proceedings!!"
Courts in Australia were also perceived as being intimidating and extremely formal when compared to the practice of customary law and customary
practice as experienced in some countries of origin.
Feedback received from community respondents highlighted that there was an overrepresentation of young people from African backgrounds in minor public
order offences such as loitering, disorderly behaviour or fare evasion.
Concerns were raised within the Victorian consultations in relation to what was seen to be tense relationship between the Somali community,
particularly young people, and the police and courts.
A number of positive references, however, were made to recent initiatives that had been taken by various courts and judicial officers with the aim of
improving levels of awareness amongst newly-arrived communities of the courts. These programs also aim to enhance mutual respect and trust between
communities and the judiciary. One such example is the moot courts that have been organised by the Victorian Magistrates Court:
"The judge [magistrate] showed us the court room and she showed us how the court works. We all got a chance to sit in the witness box and understand
more about how the court does things. This is good because I don't feel frightened of the court anymore. So many in my community are very frightened of
(Community Respondent, Vic)
Other events referred to included presentations by judges and court officials to community meetings, dialogue sessions between community leaders and
visits to the courts and tribunals.
Several community members and leaders also raised as a key concern from the constant negative media representation of incidents involving members of
the African Australian communities:
"It doesn't matter that it was one Sudanese, or one Somali, or one Ethiopian who might have done the wrong thing and broken the law. We all end up
being targeted as a problem by the media and then the Australian public as a whole."
(Participant, community focus group, Tas)
(v) Child protection
Child protection laws and what were perceived to be highly inappropriate and discriminatory interventions by child protection agencies featured in
almost every community consultation meeting:
Respondents highlighted that many in the communities were often unaware of the Australian definition of the legal rights of children at 16 years and
then again as young adults at 18 years.
Many community respondents suggested that child protection was not fully explained to them or how the laws work in Australia. Stakeholders also
reflected the need for 'legal literacy' and more information to be provided to improve people's awareness in this area:
"In terms of child protection issues, one of the issues that we deal with is that people come in and they have no idea of the law, and the issues
around child protection. When they come into the country, they immigration department funds a number of agencies, and they have these services for a
number of months. They are told a bit about what life is about but certainly nothing around parenting or child protection issue"
(vi) Legal aid and legal services
Issues related to access to legal services, including legal aid and legal representation, were raised by a number of stakeholders in various states and
territories as an issue of growing concern, particularly for those who want to bring family out to Australia.
Respondents raised a number of barriers to accessing immigration specialists, the most significant being that many in the communities cannot afford
immigration lawyers or migration agents. Legal aid is not provided for these cases and the various Refugee and Immigration Legal Centres that have been
set up across the country do not have sufficient funding to be able to assist families who may be in this situation.
Several African community workers and leaders also spoke of the increasing number of people from within their communities who were 'self representing'
as they did not understand that they could get free legal advice, or apply for legal aid in some instances.
Some respondents commented on what they perceived to be an increased engagement with community based legal services around the development of
collaborative models of legal education and legal support, including co-location of services. Co-location of services was seen to be a particularly
effective way of outreaching African Australians who were not likely to be aware of the legal service, but who are engaged in activities organised
through the migrant resource centre. As such, they are more likely to feel comfortable in accessing the legal service in the event of some legal issue
"This has been a good way for people to know that they can get legal advice instead of just ignoring the problem. There are so many times when I know
people in our community have just thrown a paper away not knowing that it was a court order."
(Community respondent, WA)
Other collaborative examples include the NSW Legal Assistance Forum (NLAF), which promotes collaboration and coordination in the
development of legal services in NSW which has established a 'Working Group on Access to Justice for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD)
Communities'. The overall aim of the NLAF CALD Working Group is to improve legal services to culturally and linguistically diverse communities by
focusing on engagement between the legal and migrant services sectors. The working group has been working with Blacktown Local Court on the feasibility
of free legal information and basic legal representation service for the Sudanese community. They have also developed a Sudanese Community Legal
There is also an initiative with the Victorian Bar which provides complimentary support to Spare Lawyers for Refugees. The Bar Legal
Assistance Scheme provides an extensive service for the administration of legal claims through the court system in Victoria.
(vii) Access to interpreters
Issues relating to language barriers and difficulty accessing interpreters in some African languages and dialects featured in many of the community
"One of the issues is that there is a lack of adequate interpreters in some African languages such as Swahili and Kirundi. When people deal with courts
it becomes a problem. Sometimes hearings have had to be adjourned to ensure that interpreters can be made available but sometimes it just isn't
(Community worker, NSW)
During the consultations a small number of respondents also highlighted experiences where court hearings being held at local courts/magistrates courts
had proceeded even though the interpreter had not arrived:
"I didn't understand much of what was going on. I said I was alright about the court starting because I was worried about wasting the judge's time."
A number of courts are adopting policies in relation to the use of interpreters as a way of preventing these scenarios from occurring.
Both 'legal' and non legal stakeholders were able to provide examples of experiences with the legal system. Overall, these did not appear to be as
negative as those examples provided by community respondents. Indeed, there seemed to be a fairly even balance provided of both positive and negative
experiences, particularly examples where the legal system and those working within it were actively committed to improving legal outcomes for African
- African Australians, particularly humanitarian entrants appear to have only a minimal understanding of the justice system and processes in
Australia - queries were also raised in relation to the extent to which pre-arrival information about the legal system is provided.
- Lack of understanding of laws regarding issues such as family violence, the implications of violent conduct and of police involvement in
domestic violence situations, and the process of the justice system in relation to offences, charges and restraining orders.
- Perception that new arrivals appear to have a pre-determined view of the law enforcement system and law enforcement officers that sometimes
leads to misunderstanding and confusion - this is particularly applicable to refugee and humanitarian entrants who may have a fear or mistrust of the
- Community policing awareness programs across various states and territories targeting newly arrived African Australians through information and
education programs on rights and responsibilities were seen be successful in improving levels of awareness within communities.
- Relationship building activities, particularly through sporting programs designed to engage young disengaged youth, were also identified as
contributing to improved police and community relations.
- Implementation of successful programs such as the 'Justice for Refugees Program' administered through the Victorian Department of Justice, and
the Sudanese Community Liaison Office Position at the NSW Attorney General's Department were identified as also contributing to more positive and
informed interactions between communities and the legal system as a whole.
"I think it is fair to say that the legal system becomes a negative experience when people are not provided with the information they need to be able
to navigate the system properly. But we are seeing more and more recognition being given to the importance of legal information, and I think this is
improving the interaction with the law for newly arrived Africans considerably."
(Stakeholder representative, NSW).
Police respondents spoke of their frustration in relation to the low levels of awareness of the law amongst some African Australian communities
suggesting the need for better and more coordinated information. An example was provided where police were participating in orientation programs for
newly-arrived humanitarian entrants through the IHSS program.
The program operates at the Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre and Centrecare Catholic Migrant Centre (CCMC) in Western Australia
and targets new arrivals and covers a general introduction to policing in Australia and an overview of the Australian justice system. In addition,
police officers are regularly invited to address new and emerging community groups on issues of concern, such as family and domestic violence,
intergenerational conflict and family conflict resolution.
While the lack of availability of interpreters, particularly in the languages of the most recently arrived African Australians was undoubtedly an issue
of concern, several service provider stakeholders indicated that there were still the ongoing problem of getting police and the courts to actually use
Importantly, stakeholders still stressed that significant time and effort has been recently invested by police across a range of jurisdictions in
addressing tensions between police and young African Australians.
(c) Public submissions
Over a third (36%) of the submissions raised issues relating to the legal and justice needs of African Australians.
While a few positive stories of African Australians' experiences with the legal and justice system were given in the submissions, most emphasised a
lack of adequate understanding and appropriate accessing of the Australian legal and justice system by African Australians.
9.3 What concerns do African Australians have about the Australian legal and justice systems?
Community consultations revealed a number of concerns in relation to the legal and justice system. Broadly, these included:
- increasing number of young people interfacing with the legal system, particularly the criminal justice system
- impact of child protection laws and interventions by child protection agencies on families
- deteriorating relations between police and African Australian young people
- lack of appropriate diversionary programs for African young people
- community safety, particularly regarding racial violence directed towards young African men and women
- lack of awareness in relation to Australian laws and the corresponding fear that people may break the law inadvertently
- lack of cultural awareness/sensitivity on the part of law enforcement agencies and staff, particularly police and sheriffs
- negative fallout in the broader Australian community as a result of media coverage of particular incidents.
- The issue of young people's increasing interactions with the legal system, particularly the criminal justice system, was taken up by the African Australian Think Tank (ATT) as part of a one-day forum entitled 'Maximizing the potential of African-Australian Youth: A
Community Model to bolster health and legal support'. The forum also sought to explore the range of strategies required to better assist young
African-Australians to integrate into the wider Australian society more successfully and subsequently eliminate or prevent the circumstances under
which they become involved with the police and the criminal justice system.
- A key recommendation emerging from the forum was the need for government recognition and valuing of the principle and practice of African-Australian
control of programs for African-Australians, not just having external programs and services being 'delivered to' African-Australian communities.
Another key recommendation related to the urgent need for training and education, particularly for police and those working within the justice system.
Community members and leaders in other states and territories also shared examples of activities being undertaken to address the growing number of
young people interfacing with the criminal justice system. While the range of activities varied, all were underpinned by the belief that communities
themselves needed to be at the forefront of such initiatives:
"We are always keen to involve ourselves with the good work that police and community organisations are doing to address issues of shared concern
between us, such as the tragedy that is affecting our young people who are so disconnected from us and from the community as a whole... but this should
be done in close consultation with us, and not done to us. The doing to us has not worked."
(Community leader, NSW)
Conversely, concerns were also raised about young people as victims of crime, such as mobile phone theft, thefts from
vehicles, and assault (often perceived to be racially motivated).
Concerns were particularly expressed by focus groups conducted with members of diverse Somali organisations who expressed a sense of increasing
vulnerability in relation to racial and religious violence:
"I know that I stand out wearing the hijab and being African, and I have definitely thought about removing it ... my parents have begged me to as they
are worried it makes me an easy target... but I think why should I have to do this in a country that is supposed to be free and a democracy."
(Participant, Youth focus group, Vic)
As concerned as community members were about both the possibilities of young people being victims and perpetrators of crimes, they were also equally
quick to point out the remarkable achievement of so many young African Australians. Comments relating to their strength, their courage and their
resilience were frequently made during community consultation sessions.
(i) Child protection
Of equal concern to communities was the issue of child protection. Community respondents report that child protection issues are creating stress and
hardship for many African Australian families, particularly those who are more newly arrived:
"I am not talking about saying that we should be allowed to abuse our children. That is wrong. What I am saying is that we need to know more about what
it is that I am doing, like expecting my children to take responsibility and do work around the house and look after their younger brothers and
sisters. I am told here that is exploiting them. For me that is giving them responsibility and getting them to understand that they are part of a whole
family and a whole community."
(Participant, Community Focus Group, WA)
Many community members expressed frustration, anger, dismay and despair at the impact that child protection interventions were having on their families
and the number of out-of-home care placements involving African Australian children.
Examples of what were perceived to be inappropriate and discriminatory actions taken by child welfare and child protection agencies across various
state and territory jurisdictions were consistently made at almost every community consultation.
A young woman shared the following experience which reflected many others conveyed:
"At school they asked us if we have money. We don't know about the money, but they told us that the money was ours. I know that my mother uses the
money for us, and we don't know about money. Also at home we only eat in the morning and at night, and so in Australia we don't bring lunch, but then
the school called my mother and told her she had to go to see the counselor because we were not given food."
(Participant, Youth Focus Group, NSW)
While the issues that were raised during the stakeholder consultations and interviews mirrored many of those raised in the community consultations,
there were differences both in terms of how the respective groups represented the issues and the priority placed on them.
For example, stakeholders on the whole were of the opinion that young African Australians were getting caught up in the criminal justice system largely
as a result of intergenerational conflict and the impact of pre arrival trauma:
"It's not surprising that young Africans would be caught up in the legal system. The young people we work with are really disaffected and disengaged
both from their families and their communities. They are torn between trying to settle in a new country with different cultural norms and expectations,
and also manage the cultural expectations of their families. There are very different ideas for example about independence, and this causes
considerable culture clash between the young person and his or her family."
Overall, however, key issues identified by stakeholders included:
- limited levels of awareness amongst many African Australians, particularly newly arrived in relation to laws relating to family violence, family
law, child protection, driving, and consumer issues
- increased targeting by police, particularly what is increasingly perceived by some as 'racial profiling'
- reluctance to complain about or seek help to resolve a legal problem
- lack of awareness of the existence of community legal centres or availability of legal aid
- lack of trust or belief that the law or legal system will offer any real protection, given past experiences
- lack of available interpreters, particularly in more newly-arrived languages
- limited or no awareness of road laws, including the need to have a drivers licence.
Stakeholders spoke more frequently of the need for information and education programs aimed at building legal literacy amongst African Australians,
particularly those who are newly arrived:
Several respondents across a number of different states stated that there is an urgent need for greater resourcing of parenting programs to address
issues such as child protection and improve information and access particularly for African humanitarian entrants.
(c) Public submissions
The main concerns of African Australians regarding the Australian legal and justice system, as indicated by the submissions, include:
- the Australian legal system is very different to the legal systems in some African countries
- language difficulties
- family breakdowns due to changing roles of authority and other problems caused by living with two cultures (traditional and Australian)
- older and younger people have different needs and expectations in relation to the law
- Police and community relations was also identified as an area of growing concern, with several submissions suggesting the need for greater trust
building programs and activities, particularly targeting young people.
9.4 Rights, justice and the law
(a) As an African Australian, do you feel protected by the Australian legal and justice systems?
While responses varied from state to state, and from region to region, the majority of those who responded to this question were either 'unsure' or did
not feel protected at all. Greater levels of concern and dissatisfaction were recorded in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
On the whole, Muslim women (across each of the states and territories) were even less likely to feel protected than non Muslim women, citing their
visible difference, particularly in relation to the wearing of religious dress, and increasing both their vulnerability to public assaults and the
likelihood of a "stereotyped view" of Muslim women.
Reasons provided by participants for their lack of confidence in the law's protection ranged from the belief that the law was for 'white people'
through to deep cynicism about the law as an institution. This view was often based on pre arrival experiences.
Those who felt protected by the law were indeed able to recount experiences where either police, or other relevant authorities responded to complaints
with respect and followed up appropriately.
(b) What services exist to explain to African Australians what their rights are when they are involved in the legal and justice systems?
Responses to this question varied depending on years of residence or settlement, with those who had been settled in Australia for longer being able to
identify a number of different services, including:
- community legal centres
- community legal aid
- migrant resource centres or other settlement service providers
- African Australian welfare services or support networks
- private practitioners
- court support workers/programs
- community neighbourhood centres
- community organisations delivering legal information programs
- local councils
- relevant government departments.
A number of women in various ethno specific focus groups also identified the women's health service, including maternal and child health care centres.
For those more newly arrived, particularly those who had arrived as refugee or humanitarian entrants, levels of awareness in relation to the range of
services available to assist in the provision of legal information was extremely limited with most citing the following organisations/agencies:
- IHSS provider
- migration agent
- community or religious leader
- Family/friends (having arrived prior).
Sources of information identified by community respondents were very much repeated by service providers and other stakeholders.
A number of stakeholders were also able to provide information in relation to their own particular services and programs, including:
The Legal Services Commission, in partnership with the Migrant Resource Centre of South Australia and the Multicultural Communities Council of SA
Inc , received a grant from the Law Foundation of South Australia to assist it to administer a project to enhance access to and understanding of Australian
family law for CALD Communities.
Please see: www.lsc.sa.gov.au/cb_pages/CALDprojects.php
Justice for Refugees Program within the Victorian Department of Justice which employs community educators to develop and disseminate culturally and linguistically appropriate justice-related information in partnership with
refugee communities about the legal system.
Victoria Legal Aid has a multi-lingual telephone information call centre that fields over 70,000 calls per year. It provides legal information and referral in 14
languages. Each language, has its own phone number which is promoted through local ethnic media and ethnic organisations.
Please see: www.legalaid.vic.gov.au
Fairfield City Council and ICE (Information and Cultural Exchange) are developing a DVD in Dinka, Arabic and Swahili to raise the awareness of newly-arrived communities about the Australian legal system.
Please see: www.ice.org.au/projects/fairfieldstories
Other services identified included:
- human rights organisations, such as the Australian Human Rights Commission and other state equivalents
- community legal centres
- pro bono legal centres
- private practitioners
- court network or similar court support organisations.
Similar to the feedback received from several community respondents, a number of stakeholders also stressed the point that the mere availability of
services or information sources did not guarantee effective reception of information.
(iii) Public submissions
A small number of submissions discussed the availability of some services to explain to African Australians what their rights are when
they are involved in the legal and justice systems, including:
- NSW Young Lawyers Human Rights Committee
- Legal Aid Commission of NSW
- The Refugee Advisory and Casework Service
- Balmain for Refugees
- Community Legal Centres.
Overall, however, the submissions highlighted a lack of appropriate services available to explain the legal and justice system.
(c) Can you provide examples of any incidences where the rights of African Australians were denied in the justice and law enforcement setting?
Numerous examples were offered of incidents where the rights of African Australians were perceived to have been denied in the justice and law
enforcement settings. Examples related to the following themes:
- racial profiling/targeting of African young people by police
- perceived acts of victimisation by police, including alleged acts of discrimination/racism
- disbelief/disrespect exhibited by police or other law enforcement agency
- lack of follow up by police to reports of violence
- interpreter not made available
- information relating to rights/remedies not provided
- inadequate or inappropriate referrals to support services
- receiving fines issued by transit police without providing opportunity for explanation
- over scrutinised by custom officials at airports.
"On the one hand we are being told to report crimes, but when we do, and it happens to actually be against us, then there is a very different reaction.
The number of times I have heard people in the community tell me that there was nothing done... no follow up or anything… It's just not good
(Participant, Community Focus Group, Qld)
Most stakeholders consulted highlighted that much work had been done in addressing perceived disadvantage within the legal system, including the
implementation of various programs designed to enhance access to justice for African Australians. Examples such as the Justice for Refugees Program within the Victorian Department of Justice were cited as demonstrative of improved approaches.
However, several community legal centres, and a number of youth organisations made reference to a number of incidences where the rights of African
Australians were denied or breached in some way. Examples include:
- young people being harassed by police - examples of 'heavy handed approaches'
- interpreters not being provided or offered
- people being directed to sign 'official' forms by police without any explanations provided.
(d) What factors can contribute to negative interactions between African Australians and law enforcement?
Community respondents identified a number of factors that contribute to negative interactions between African Australians and law enforcement,
- perceptions of bias and differential and unequal treatment by police by African Australians
- mutual distrust and misunderstanding of each other's background
- stereotyped views of African young people
- lack of understanding of the role of police leading to suspicion and confusion
- inadequate knowledge of laws thereby attracting the attention of police
- previous pre arrival experiences of corrupt and abusive police and legal systems.
Another key factor highlighted was the way in which the lack of cultural knowledge, particularly on the part of police, can act (sometimes
inadvertently) to create further distance between communities and police. Community respondents strongly advocated for the need for police to
understanding community dynamics and splits within communities, and not simply assume that everyone with the community is the same:
"It really bothers me that police think all Sudanese people are the same and the all speak the same language... Sudanese. Well there is no Sudanese and
our ethnic and cultural differences between us are actually really big. Dinkas are different to the Nuer, who are different again to the Bari or the
Chollo. A bit more of an understanding of that might mean that they don't end up aggravating something or adding to a tension that might be there."
(Participant, community focus group, Vic)
The other cultural factor highlighted related to gender issues:
"For instance, a woman may not tell a police officer who is male that she is experiencing domestic violence because it might be culturally
inappropriate for her to share that kind of information with a man."
(Participant, Community Focus Group, SA)
Feedback received from stakeholders in relation to the above questions reflected many of the factors identified by community respondents.
(iii) Public submissions
Critical factors contributing to negative interactions between African Australians and law enforcement, as highlighted in the submissions, include:
- some African Australians mistrust and fear police due to negative pre-arrival experiences
- some African Australians come from countries that do not have established laws and have trouble comprehending a concrete legal and justice
- some African Australians' perceptions that they are not being treated the same as other Australians by law enforcers.
9.5 Access to the legal and justice systems
(a) What barriers do African Australians face in accessing the legal and justice systems?
Community respondents identified a number of barriers faced in trying to access the legal and justice system, including culture shock for them when
they first encountered the Australian legal system:
"In the lowland [of Eritrea] there was no court or police. A committee of people decides. In the case of fighting, hitting, causing serious injury, the
family contact each other and try to solve the problem… Only older men can be on the committee… The committee decides on the value of the
injury. For example if a person is killed about sixty cows are sent to the victim's family. One quarter of this amount is required for injuries to the
teeth and eyes. Hair and broken skin is a similar amount, one cow, butter or money. The two families talk and then apologise."
Another important barrier identified by community respondents was the possible expectation, particularly by those who are newly arrived, of alignment
with the legal system in their countries of origin and that of their new host country:
"Sometimes people have these expectations of the law that you know are based on their home country ideas and on cultural values. Things like the dowry
and expecting that if there is a divorce, the court will order the return of the dowry."
(Community leader, WA)
Barriers identified as being specific to women included:
- the legal system's lack of sensitivity to the particular needs of African Australian women, particularly Muslim women, either in the provision
of culturally appropriate services or in the dissemination of information about the legal system and how to access available services
- the insufficient attention to gender issues in legal interpreting
- the inadequacy of legal training for migrant/ethnic workers
- lack of access to interpreters, in particular female interpreters
- limited financial ability to fund their own legal actions and the limited availability of legal aid.
Stakeholder respondents highlighted similar barriers to those identified by community participants.
(iii) Public submissions
Issues relating to African Australians access to legal and justice systems were addressed by a third (33%) of the submissions. The main barriers
highlighted included in the submissions were similar to those for community and stakeholders.
(b) What information about the legal and justice systems should be provided to African Australians to empower them? And when is the best time to
provide such information (e.g. when a person is in the legal system, or at different time)?
The provision of legal information and education effectively increases people's knowledge of the law and encourages greater access to the legal system
and a more just outcome. For most African Australians consulted, increasing their knowledge of the law was seen as a key priority.
When asked to identify the type of information that they would require there was almost unanimous agreement that child protection and family law,
including domestic violence laws, were the most important. This differed for young people who were particularly interested in receiving information
about police powers.
The key subject areas in order of frequency of citation included the following:
- child protection laws
- laws relating to family and domestic violence, including family law
- anti discrimination laws
- laws related to the driving of motor vehicles
- information about the role of police, including laws related to police powers
- laws related to 'anti-social behaviour', particularly where there may be cultural differences in how this is understood
- consumer and tenancy issues
- alcohol and drugs related matters.
"We should know more about what the law says about the way that we discipline our children. We do not want to hurt our children, but we have cultural
ways of guiding them in the right way... it's hard to know then which way I am allowed to do this in this country."
The need for a culturally sensitive approach to assessment and intervention was strongly emphasized by most community respondents.
Community members also wanted to know more about consumer protection laws to prevent people within their communities being exploited and subjected to
various unethical consumer practices, including signing contracts without fully understanding the nature of the contract.
A number of community respondents in NSW cited the Think Smart campaign as a good practice example of an effective community education
initiative. The program is aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of consumer rights issues by community members from amongst CALD communities
in New South Wales.
Community respondents emphasised the point that they are often inundated with vast amounts of written and verbal information relating to living in
Australia and that it is extremely difficult to be able to absorb all the information in a very short space of time.
Legal information needed to be delivered over a period of time and should not just be a one-off community information session.
A number of respondents stressed the need for sessions to be flexible and be offered after hours as well. The provision of childcare would also
significantly enhance the ability of women to participate.
Stakeholders raised similar areas of need in relation to legal information with a particular emphasis on laws relating to family violence and child
abuse, consumer protection and tenancy arrangements.
"Newly arrived communities don't really understand their rights and so they tend to get ripped off when they are signing up for something. Consumer
protection information is actually really vital to these communities because they are often not in a financial situation to be buying the things that
they get conned into."
In relation to how and when legal information should be provided, most stakeholders agreed that access to legal information and advice should occur at
the earliest possible time.
(iii) Public submissions
Suggestions given in the submissions included:
- provide information on the legal and justice system during the settlement process, including:
- translated written information
- translated instructional DVD
- verbal education sessions in primary languages.
(c) Following on from the question above - how, or through what mechanism/s, can information about the legal and justice systems be best provided
to African Australians?
Community legal education plays a key role in enhancing the ability of newly-arrived communities to better understand the Australian legal system.
Community respondents repeatedly stated that community input into the development of legal information and education strategies should actively seek to
involve the community. This would ensure greater relevance to the community:
"Communities know what the issues are and they can help make the information culturally relevant. Sometimes the words that are used in English can be
translated wrong so getting communities to check it is also good to stop people getting confused."
Many of the examples provided by community respondents of effective methods by which legal information can be delivered were community developed and
community driven, and often in partnership with legal and paralegal organisations.
Below are some good practice examples that were cited:
- The Switchboard Project
- The Sudanese Australian Integrated Learning Program (SAIL) is a volunteer, non-profit organisation that provides free English support and community
services to the Sudanese refugee community in Melbourne. Blake Dawson's Melbourne switchboard team assists SAIL by providing a dedicated switchboard
service which connects members of the Sudanese refugee community with SAIL.
- Strengthening Youth - Australian Oromo Community Association in Victoria
- The aim of the project is to address the large number of African youth who are unemployed or not undertaking study and having problems integrating. The
project proposes to educate and mentor at risk African youth about the community. The project will include the local police, local council and
community leaders. The project will focus on encouraging, empowering and assisting African youth to further their education and personal development.
- Please see: www.oromocommunity.org.au
Community respondents said that they preferred to receive information through the following modes of communication:
- face to face presentations
- on site visits/court open days
- information could be provided to the community as part of their English language class
- community radio as an effective way to broadcast messages
- African media
There was also very strong support for the idea of developing visual resources such as a video or DVD. Participants felt that innovative resources such
as these would be especially beneficial to those with low literacy competence.
On site visits and court open days were identified by several stakeholders as effective ways of increasing community awareness of Australian courts and
For example, as part of Refugee Week 2009, the Refugee Review Tribunal hosted open afternoons in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Visitors
received an insight into RRT operations with mock hearings and presentations on legal and research work.
Stakeholders highlighted a number of activities aimed at improving levels of awareness around the legal system. Effective programs to educate those new
arrivals should be:
- engage community bilingual staff
- customised for different groups of new arrivals to address specific barriers faced by each group and not one size fits all
- delivered in creative ways to facilitate successful settlement service.
In terms of effectiveness, stakeholders stressed the need for more comprehensive approaches that extended beyond the mere provision of legal
"There is no point doing the DVD's and getting your glossies out if you don't have the capacity to follow up when people then present with the whole
range of legal issues that they have. You have to be able to back it up with a community development approach and one that is about prevention."
Prevention and early intervention approaches to information and legal education were considered essential to ensuring the success of information and
awareness sessions targeting newly-arrived communities.
Several stakeholders highlighted the importance of ensuring that appropriate approaches to the provision of legal information were utilised in relation
to young people:
"There is an assumption that you can use the same information strategies with young people as you do with adults. We know from experience that they
don't read the brochures or the pamphlets. They want interactive information. Sometimes even done through other means like sport."
Indeed several programs involving sport and the arts were identified as having considerable success in increasing young people's awareness of the law
and reducing the risk of negative involvement with police and the legal system:
"Young Africans seem to love sport and music and by using what they enjoy and getting them involved in a more structured way, we can get them to
understand things like rules and the law. This is about prevention by using the range of protective factors."
There were many examples provided of programs and projects primarily aimed at improving levels of awareness of the law and the legal system amongst
African Australians, particularly those who are newly arrived:
"Consumer Affairs Victoria educates newly-arrived migrants about their rights and responsibilities as Victorian consumers. I think their presentations
really have helped to protect them from unscrupulous traders and have managed to reduce exploitation by traders which unfortunately we see all too
often these days." (Stakeholder, Vic)
Examples cited include:
Renting, Shopping, Money: a teaching resource on consumer issues for migrants - an initiative of the NSW Government's Think Smart program - the NSW Office of Fair Trading developed the resource with the ACL Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) Consortium.
Please see: www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/pdfs/About_us/Publications/RSM_Cover_and_introduction.pdf
Multilingual Tenancy Kit - the NSW Office of Fair Trading produced this kit in partnership with Auburn Diversity Services.
Essendon Community Legal Centre - informs newly-arrived migrants and refugees and disadvantaged households about driving laws and helps them obtain their L-plates and P-plates through
a driving education program.
Please see: www.communitylaw.org.au/clc_essendon
The ANU Migrant and Refugee Support Project is part of the Student Social Justice Initiative in the Law Reform and Social Justice
Program at the ANU College of Law. The MARS Project gives law students an opportunity to work with newly-arrived migrants and refugees who need support
and guidance in dealing with daily legal and administrative requirements, such as form-filling, letter-writing, registration and licensing, and access
Please see: http://law.anu.edu.au/lrsj/mars.asp
African Sessional Workers Pilot Project - NSW DoCS and Hills Holroyd Parramatta Migrant Resource Centre - Local African community members in Sydney's west have been recruited and trained by the MRC to work with DoCS caseworkers and help DoCS work better
with African families and communities. There is a pool of sessional workers representing five communities and covering fourteen languages, who casework
staff can engage for support when they are working with families from African communities.
The NT Legal Aid Commission (NTLAC) provides legal advice on family law, criminal law, immigration, civil law, domestic violence and
child protection. NTLAC has established an outreach service at the offices of the Multicultural Council of the Northern Territory for African
Australian communities living in the northern suburbs. Recently NTLAC also launched a legal resource kit for culturally and linguistically diverse
(CALD) communities in the Northern Territory.
Please see: www.ntlac.nt.gov.au
Legal Education Awareness Project - The project is supported by key service providers with well established links to African youth, including Lutheran Community Care, Multicultural
Youth SA, African Communities Council, Blue Light (SAPOL), Adelaide Secondary School of English and the Australian Refugee Association's Youth Working
Party of African Workers' Network amongst others. It provides legal education to African youth in South Australia. LEAP stemmed from a series of
consultations with African communities, settlement service providers and South Australian Police which highlighted the many challenges faced by African
Please see: http://www.lsc.sa.gov.au/cb_pages/LEAP.php
Family Law for African Communities - Legal Aid Queensland has trialled an education kit on family law specifically for African Australians who are newly arrived. This kit will become one
of the tools in the agency's community education program in regions with large African refugee communities.
(iii) Public submissions
Public submission highlighted that when conducting community education sessions ensure that:
- the sessions have a positive and friendly atmosphere
- the sessions are located away from police stations or other imposing locations
- additional 'women only' sessions are conducted
- interpreters are available
- it is clearly explained that the laws being discussed apply to all people in Australia and provide examples to demonstrate.
There is a need to:
- establish partnerships between local law enforcement and local communities
- conduct informal information sessions
- "Armidale Sanctuary has been proactive in this area by recently inviting the local police (community relations and domestic violence officers) and
Dinkas to meet informally and talk about the Australian law. This has been a huge success with increased understanding on both sides, and the police
becoming regarded as friends." (s12)
- provide information on the moral values underpinning the justice system to foster greater understanding
- employ African Australian mediators trained in legal and justice knowledge to assist new-arrivals
- recruit more African Australians into the justice system.
(d) What can be done to decrease the level of non-reporting of crime by African Australians?
Overall, community respondents conveyed the view that many African Australians, particularly those who are newly arrived, are less likely to report
crimes committed against them and identified a number of barriers which included:
- fear of deportation and permanent separation from family members
- lack of confidence in the effectiveness of the police in dealing with crime
- fear of not being taken seriously by law enforcement or other agency
- fear of repercussions
- social and cultural barriers.
Suggestions made by respondents to improve the reporting of crime included:
- training of law enforcement officers
- need to make services to victims more accessible
- information about Victim Support and other support services should be communicated more effectively to African Australians, including general
raising of awareness and informing victims after a crime
- peer education should be explored as a way of communicating information.
Most respondents emphasised that improved relations with police would greatly enhance the communities' confidence in reporting crime.
9.6 Combating family violence
(a) What are effective strategies that can be used by governments, NGOs or service providers to combat family violence issues for African
Community respondents suggested that government and community agencies needed to give greater consideration to the following issues to better combat
family violence issues:
- pre arrival experiences, particularly for those entrants who have spent considerable time in refugee camps prior to arriving in Australia,
needed to be better understood by services when providing support to victims of family violence
- changing role of families, including the roles of men, women and young people perceived as impacting on the occurrence of family violence,
particularly violence being perpetrated by young people against their elders
- generally, older women perceived current legal and service interventions in family violence as inappropriate and as contributing to an
exacerbation of the issue in their communities
- information in relation to family violence is often based on 'Western' notions of 'family'
- distrust of government institutions is perceived to be increasing
- barriers to reporting family violence may be based on a range of fears, including fear of policing organisations, expectation that children may
be removed, or that women will be removed from their family homes
- there are very few options for men who use violence to seek assistance, including a lack of bilingual counsellors or support workers.
The majority of respondents also expressed the view that African specific organisations should play a more significant role in preventing family
"ethno specific and multicultural organisations are more likely to identify family violence issues during the settlement support process than
mainstream services and yet are rarely identified as key partners in the dissemination of family violence messages or campaigns."
An example was provided of a project that was undertaken by African women for African women and their families:
Liberian Women's Story Telling
The program was for Liberian women living in Victoria to meet with each other, build relationships and learn more about Australian culture. Project
activities included support from mentors, workshops to build relationships and storytelling and music sharing among the women. The women's stories will
be recorded and collated into a combined document for the wider community. Some participants were of the view that changes in women's roles in the
early resettlement period can have a significant impact on family dynamics as refugee men come to terms with the demands on women outside of the home
and women's greater social and economic power.
Importantly, the use of religious or faith leaders to promote the messages around family violence was identified as being particularly effective as
religious leaders are often well recognised, respected and trusted. Furthermore, they tend to be deeply rooted in the community and so their messages
are often regarded as genuine and important to consider.
All community and religious leaders who were consulted spoke of the importance of engaging leaders in disseminating information on family violence:
"The role of the religious leader in the community is most important. I often take the opportunity in prayer to talk about what the Koran says in
relation to issues of family and family violence. I remind people that there are very clear messages that say this violence is wrong. People listen to
this. This is why you must involve people like myself. They are more likely to come to an Imam than anybody else."
Several community leaders highlighted that when developing information about family violence, it is important to tailor the information to individual
communities, rather than fall into the trap of targeting 'African communities' as "if we were all the same". Furthermore, they highlighted that the
person delivering the message about family violence and family violence prevention to communities should be "well known, credible, trustworthy, and a
member of the targeted group".
Additional suggestions of effective information and communication strategies included:
- new and emerging communities should not be seen to have the same information and communication needs as older, more established communities. New
communities have specific language and cultural needs that necessitate specialist approaches to the design and delivery of information
- care should be taken in ensuring the particular communities do not feel that they are being targeted as 'problem' communities
- recognition of pre arrival experiences, including torture and trauma, should be integral to the design of community information strategies
around family violence
- information and community awareness programs should incorporate culturally relevant notions of family
- there is a need to adopt a whole of community approach to family violence, which should involve the participation of men and women in the
- translated written information is extremely limited in reaching communities for a range of reasons including issues of literacy
- ensuring that relationship building, including building trust in government and policing organisations, is central to the awareness and
- the use of religious leaders is critical in challenging attitudes to family violence
- working closely with bilingual workers and community leaders in the development of key messages and the delivery of community awareness programs
is essential to the success of any family violence information strategy
- information strategies should include community capacity components aimed at improving the skills of bilingual settlement support workers in
addressing family violence
- education is seen to be more effective than legislation in addressing issues of family violence.
The collaboration between mainstream providers and ethnic community representatives was seen as essential in developing acceptable culturally
appropriate and responsive programs.
Stakeholders identified similar strategies in relation to combating violence with most agreeing that interagency responses were preferred.
Several respondents also suggested that there needed to be a greater focus on prevention, in particular on raising awareness of family violence and
changing the social attitudes, beliefs and systems that sustain violence.
The use of bilingual/multilingual workers was repeatedly identified as a key factor in the success of various community education programs. Bilingual
workers serve as important connectors between members of their community and the mainstream agency to promote key messages to groups that have
traditionally lacked access to appropriate and relevant information.
The role of men in communities was also identified as an important strategy:
Men should be targeted through culturally appropriate preventative programs, including education programs on domestic violence and Australian law,
during the early settlement phase.
The FECCA White Ribbon CALD Project was cited as a good practice example. Funding was provided to FECCA by the Department of
Immigration and Citizenship to develop resources that would assist in building capacity for new and emerging community organisations.
Please see: www.fecca.org.au/Submissions/2008/submissions_2008045.pdf
Another program referred to by stakeholders was the Family Relationship Services for Humanitarian Entrants (FRSHE) funded by FaHCSIA.
These programs are designed specifically for families who have entered Australia under the Humanitarian Entry Program. Services are open to adults,
young people, parents and their children. These services aim to address the needs of each family member and provide information about life in
Australia, including customs, laws and the role expectations of males and females to help families to adjust to Australia's culture. The services
include community development; relationship education and skills training; counselling (includes family therapy); support; and information and
Please see: www.ema.gov.au/www/agd/rwpattach.nsf/VAP/(F6A8546F15C09260ED4A166FB5832F54)~FRSP_bro5_v3.PDF/$file/FRSP_bro5_v3.PDF
The Northern Migrant Resource Centre has developed and implemented a number of culturally appropriate programs and services aiming at
enhancing awareness of family violence issues within CALD communities. These include a men and family relationships program; parenting in a new culture
program; and Sudanese parenting and family support program.
(iii) Public submissions
Issues relating to combating family violence amongst African Australian communities were addressed by close to a third (30%) of the submissions.
The submission suggested a number of strategies that Governments, NGOs or service providers could employ to combat family violence issues for African
Australians. They include:
- provide separate information sessions for men and women, in addition to general sessions, so participants are able address topics that they
would be too uncomfortable to discuss in the presence of the opposite gender
- education sessions should be run through schools and other organisations dealing with African Australian youth
- encourage and support community leaders to address family violence issues
- conduct positive parenting classes to equip African Australians with information and skills to support and discipline their children using
- employ more bilingual law enforcement officers and social workers to better communicate with families requiring intervention and assistance.
9.7 Cross-cultural training
(a) Do workers in the justice system and law enforcement receive adequate cross-cultural awareness training? If not, what type of cross-cultural
training is required?
Community respondents were generally of the view that cross-cultural training was urgently required for most law enforcement agencies including the
There was a view that while there were some good examples of cultural awareness programs that were being delivered, there needed to be much more done
within a range of legal settings:
Community respondents also highlighted the need to extend beyond cross cultural training to employing African Australians within the legal system.
The example of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Scholarships for tertiary students from refugee backgrounds was raised during some of
the Victorian consultations. Participants learn about the justice system and visit courts where they hold discussions about the impact of crime on
victims and the community. They develop basic skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, and learn to build confidence, greater levels of
resilience and self-reliance, and respect for the community and the rule of law.
Another example provided was the work that the University of Western Sydney (UWS) School of Law was doing in relation to establishing
a pilot court support project at Blacktown Local Court. The Community Restorative Centre (CRC) has provided training to volunteer students free of
Stakeholders identified a number of cultural awareness programs across different components of the legal system. Some examples cited included:
The Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration held an annual conference, 'Cultures and the Law'. Representatives from emerging communities discussed cross-cultural court room experiences in the
session 'Emerging Communities: Court Users' Experiences'.
A Local Courts Cultural Diversity Resource Kit was incorporated into the Client Service Skills manual provided to participants who
attended the Client Service Skills Training for Local Courts' staff.
A number of sessions at various local and Magistrates Courts (Vic and NSW).
NSW Judicial Commission - The Equality before the Law Bench Book provides NSW judicial officers with statistics and information about the different values, cultures, lifestyles, socioeconomic disadvantage and/or
potential barriers in relation to full and equitable participation in court proceedings for nine different groups of people.
Please see: www.judcom.nsw.gov.au/publications/benchbks/equality
Building Cross-Cultural Competence in Victoria Police Probational Constables is a specifically tailored training program to facilitate the introduction of new members from CALD backgrounds into Victoria Police.
The project is targeted towards Probational Constables - it introduces future officers to cultural differences by building their cultural competence.
There were also several programs related to working with interpreters in the courts that were also identified. For example, Dr Sandra Hale, Associate
Professor at the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of Western Sydney, regularly conducts seminars for judicial officers in a range
of jurisdictions on working effectively with interpreters.
(iii) Public submissions
Issues relating to cross-cultural training for workers in the legal and justice systems were addressed by close to a third (30%) of the submissions.
While a number of agencies, including Victoria Police and Dandenong Police, do provide examples of productive cross-cultural training for workers, the
submissions highlighted an overall lack of adequate cross-cultural awareness training for workers in law enforcement and the justice system.
(b) How can governments, service providers and communities work to break down the fear and mistrust of authority that is felt by many African
Examples provided included:
Sudanese Leaders and the Family Court - Sudanese Community Leaders brought their culture to the Family Court in a day of lively discussion and debate. The day was facilitated by Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau and the staff of the Family Court in Dandenong.
Victoria Police 'Connecting Africans to Industry' project involved hosting 12 young African Community members for two days as they visited several Police Units to gain a better understanding of these
areas. It is hoped that such initiatives will give young African Community members the incentive to join the Victoria Police. Other initiatives by
Victoria Police include:
- New and Emerging Communities Liaison Officers Program will greatly enhance police capacity to work with newest communities. The
program has five positions concentrating on community development initiatives and building bridges of understanding between new and emerging community
members and Police - based at Dandenong, Northcote, Keilor Downs, Moonee Ponds and a position based at the VPC specifically focussed on working on
family issues across the metropolitan area.
- Please see:www.immi.gov.au/gateways/police/officer-profiles/emerging-clo/
Attorney General's Department NSW Sudanese Community Liaison Officer
This program provides advice to the department on strategies to improve services to the Sudanese community. The position will coordinate education
campaigns and advise on policy development to ensure the Department better meets the needs of the Sudanese community.
The Hobsons Bay New and Emerging Communities Youth Leadership Program
This is a partnership project between Hobsons Bay City Council, Victoria Police, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Metropolitan Ambulance Service, Westgate
Migrant Resource Centre and the Altona Traders Association. The focus of the program is to link newly-arrived young people to other communities, social
support and emergency service providers, in order to promote their understanding of life in Australia, build trust and encourage these young people to
be ambassadors within their community.
(ii) Public submissions
Recommendations made in the submission to improve community relations between African Australians and the wider Australian community included:
- network with African Australian communities to develop positive media strategies which:
- provide positive images of African Australians
- provide a voice for African communities
- includes developing websites
- develop partnerships between community leaders and local law enforcement to better meet the needs of the local community
- conduct more informal consultation sessions for African Australian communities with police to foster trust and understanding
- develop partnerships between local law enforcement, African Australian communities and the wider Australian community to support and foster
respect for cultural celebrations
- establish more youth groups that are culturally aware and supportive.
(c) Do you know of successful models of African community and law enforcement relationships?
Community participants would like to see working models for engaging African communities promoted and built upon, such as
Equatorian Community and Welfare Association
The 'Sudanese Community Model' of working with the police, which led to the development with Blacktown City Council of the Blacktown Emerging
Communities Action Plan.
Please see: www.blacktown.nsw.gov.au/shadomx/apps/fms/fmsdownload.cfm?file_uuid=05736ADD-E7FF-0ADF-9866-653B6E7278A5&siteName=blacktown
SA: Multicultural Youth South Australia (MYSA) and Adelaide Local Service Area - SA Police
The project aims to develop a youth specific resource which outlines pertinent issues relevant to Australian Muslims (i.e. religious considerations,
how to engage effectively with young people and contact details of culturally appropriate community service organisations available to support Muslim
youth) to be distributed widely with SAPOL.
Please see: www.mysa.com.au/projects.html
Queensland Police Service
The Queensland Police Service, in partnership with the Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland, coordinates an annual Football Cup for young people
from diverse backgrounds. This event kicked off in 2005, originally to engage Sudanese young people in sport, and has evolved to celebrate diversity
within the broader community and partnerships with police. The 2007 event involved 24 teams from diverse backgrounds and was attended by 4500 people.
It was also supported by a number of government and community agencies. The event received the Queensland Police Service Bronze Award for Excellence in
Problem-Oriented and Partnership Policing.
(i) Public submissions
Examples of successful relationships between African Australian communities and local law enforcement and the justice system raise in the submissions
- Dandenong Police and the local Dinka community "The Dinka community has asked for more meetings [to talk about Australian law] and the relevant police officers have said they are willing to meet on
Saturdays in their own time. This echoes the type of relationship the Dandenong police have encouraged, and seems by far the most effective in
establishing a positive trusting relationship and knowledge of the law."
- Victoria Police MLOs and local African communities "Multicultural Liaison Officers appointed within Victoria Police have been praised as a very positive initiative, in addition to visits to African
countries by Police to enable them to have a much greater cultural understanding."
- HRC legal workshops "The NSW Young Lawyers Human Rights Committee strongly supports the provision of hands on information sessions, like the free legal workshops conducted
by HRC, in order to empower African Australians with information about their rights and responsibilities as Australian citizens."
- Wyndham Humanitarian Network Sudanese Working Group "The Sudanese working group is chaired by Police, building trust between African Australians, Police and service providers."