NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper and #JustJustice Evidence What Works Part 6 : Prevention and Healing needed

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Updated Sunday 27 the November

The #JustJustice book is being launched at Gleebooks in Sydney today by Professor Tom Calma AO, and readers are invited to download the 242-page e-version. see invite below

For news about the launch, follow #JustJustice on Twitter; we also hope to do some live Periscope broadcasts.

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As well, during the week ahead, Summer May Finlay and Dr Megan Williams will be tag-tweeting about #JustJustice from @WePublicHealth.

Croakey warmly thanks all who have contributed to the #JustJustice project, including the authors, tweeters, donors and supporters.

They also thank a number of organisations that have supported our launch, including the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses (CATSINaM), Amnesty International, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), Indigenous Allied Health Australia, the Healing Foundation, the Close the Gap secretariat, the Public Health Association of Australia, the Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia, the Australian Science Media Centre, the University of Canberra, Western Sydney University, and Curtin University.

Thanks to journalist Amy McQuire for covering the book on radio at Let’s Talk, and hope other media outlets will also engage with the issues raised in the book.

Statement by Amnesty International

The Federal Government must make good on its promise to listen to, and work with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including engaging with the solutions put forward in the forthcoming #JustJustice essay collection.

The book includes more than 90 articles on solutions to protect the rights of Australia’s First Peoples. These include pieces by Amnesty’s Indigenous Rights Campaigners Roxanne Moore and Julian Cleary, who offer solutions to the stark overrepresentation of Indigenous children in detention.

‘Lock-em-up’ punitive approach has failed

In the book, Noongar woman Roxanne Moore decries the solitary confinement, teargassing and use of dogs against children in the Don Dale Detention Centre. She lays out how Australia has breached international human rights law by detaining Indigenous children at astronomical rates, and through the harsh treatment and conditions endured by children in detention.

#JustJustice articles by Julian Cleary also condemn the detention centre, and call for funding to be shifted into youth services and programs to keep kids out of detention in the first place. He writes that the ‘lock-em-up’ punitive approach has failed to heal trauma in Indigenous people in detention, and argues that Indigenous kids respond best to Indigenous role models.

He acknowledges the vital work of Indigenous people and organisations around the country – from rapper Briggs in NSW, to the Darwin-based Larrakia Night Patrol and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.

Amnesty International research has found that Governments’ best chance to reduce offending and lower Indigenous incarceration rates is to fund prevention and diversion programs led by Indigenous communities. Indigenous-led, therapeutic programs best connect with Indigenous people, helping them to heal their trauma and deal with the life problems that lead to offending in the first place.

Listen, understand

In a statement last week, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion expressed the Federal Government’s commitment to “genuine partnership” with First Peoples. He stated the Government’s determination “to listen and to understand to ensure we get it right.”

“This #JustJustice collection represents one opportunity for the Federal Government to listen and to understand,” said Roxanne Moore.

“Across the country we’re seeing unacceptable rates of Indigenous children being separated from their families and locked up. At the same time, Indigenous people also experience violence at far higher rates than the non-Indigenous population. This is not just a Northern Territory injustice – it is nationwide and Prime Minister Turnbull must seek national solutions.

“We call on Mr Turnbull to work with all States and Territories in developing a national plan to address the twin issues of high rates of Indigenous incarceration and experience of violence. We hope to see positive outcomes from the COAG meeting next month, where Mr Turnbull has pledged to put Indigenous incarceration on the agenda.”

See the statement here.

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 ” In-prison programs fail to address the disadvantage that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners face, such as addiction, intergenerational and historical traumas, grief and loss. Programs have long waiting lists, and exclude those who spend many months on remand or serve short sentences – as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often do.

Instead, evidence shows that prison worsens mental health and wellbeing, damages relationships and families, and generates stigma which reduces employment and housing opportunities .

To prevent post-release deaths, diversion from prison to alcohol and drug rehabilitation is recommended, which has proven more cost-effective and beneficial than prison , International evidence also recommends preparing families for the post-prison release phase. ‘

Dying to be free: Where is the focus on the deaths occurring post-prison release? Article 1 Below

Article from Page 17 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper out Wednesday 16 November , 24 Page lift out Koori Mail : or download

naccho-newspaper-nov-2016 PDF file size 9 MB

 “Readers of this NACCHO communique and newspaper are invited to attend the launch in Sydney on November 27 of #JustJustice, a book profiling solutions to the over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Professor Tom Calma AO, a social justice champion and Chancellor of the University of Canberra, will launch the book, which will also be freely available as an e-book via Croakey.org.

The launch comes amid mounting pressure on federal, state and territory governments to address over-incarceration, which the #JustJustice book makes clear is a public health emergency.

Just Justice Prevention and Healing needed Article 2 and Invite Below

Amid calls for a new federal inquiry into the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to result in concrete actions), a more profound concern has rated barely a mention.

Many people may not realise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to die in the days and weeks after release from prison than they are in custody, according to University of Melbourne researchers

Where non-Indigenous people are more likely be at risk of post-release death from accidental overdose, and preventative opioid substitution therapy is reasonably available to them, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to die from alcohol-related harm preventable health conditions and suicide

The majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison have been there before, often multiple times. High rates of re-incarceration and post-release death signal that they do not receive enough assistance under current programs and policies.

Jack Bulman, CEO of the well-recognised health promotion charity, Mibbinbah, recently collaborated on the design of health promotion program Be the Best You Can Be which accompanies the film Mad Bastards. He has worked with many men post-prison release and says “many get out of prison with very little support, money, plans, or hope.”

In-prison programs fail to address the disadvantage that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners face, such as addiction, intergenerational and historical traumas, grief and loss. Programs have long waiting lists, and exclude those who spend many months on remand or serve short sentences – as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often do.

Instead, evidence shows that prison worsens mental health and wellbeing, damages relationships and families, and generates stigma which reduces employment and housing opportunities .

Some European countries, however, have achieved a dramatic reduction in prisoner numbers and harms.

To prevent post-release deaths, diversion from prison to alcohol and drug rehabilitation is recommended, which has proven more cost-effective and beneficial than prison International evidence also recommends preparing families for the post-prison release phase.

Mibbinbah’s work also shows that men’s groups are a low-cost measure for prison-to-community continuity of care, and Elder engagement in prison programs has received overwhelmingly positive feedback.

Locally, evaluation of three Returning Home post-prison release pilot programs delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisations found that intensive, coordinated care in the first hours, days, and weeks after release is required, along with strategies to better identify newly-released prisoners in clinical and program settings, to provide them with appropriate care

However, for these improvements to occur, better integration between prisons and community-based services is required.

International human rights instruments assert that people in prison have the right to the same care in prison as they do in the community.

Prisons should be places where public health and criminal justice policies meet, particularly given that the overwhelming majority of people in prisons have addiction and mental health issues.

But because prisoners have no right to Medicare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison have reduced access to the types of comprehensive primary healthcare available in the community, including health assessments, care plans and social and emotional wellbeing programs.

Instead, providing such healthcare in prisons comes at an additional cost to community organisations, if it is done at all.

The Public Health Association of Australia and the Australian Medical Association have called on the Australian Government for prisoners to retain their right to Medicare.

Renewed attention to bring about this change will enable continuity of care between prison and the community, which is vital for preventing post-release deaths.

Waiting until after prison is too late.

Further reading: The Change the Record Coalition calls for the Australian Law Reform Commission to develop the terms of reference for its inquiry into over-imprisonment in close consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bodies.

https://changetherecord.org.au/blog/news/australian-law-reform-commission-inquiry-into-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-imprisonment-must-focus-on-solutions

Just Justice Prevention and Healing needed

Megan Williams writes: Readers of this newspaper are invited to attend the launch in Sydney on November 27 of #JustJustice, a book profiling solutions to the over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Professor Tom Calma AO, a social justice champion and Chancellor of the University of Canberra, will launch the book, which will also be freely available as an e-book via Croakey.org.

The launch comes amid mounting pressure on federal, state and territory governments to address over-incarceration, which the #JustJustice book makes clear is a public health emergency.

The book – which resulted from a crowd-funding campaign – profiles the breadth and depth of work by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations to address incarceration and related issues.

The inaugural Closing the Prison Gap: Cultural Resilience Conference, recently held in northern NSW, also heard about many such initiatives.

Prevention and healing needed

The first conference theme explored prevention and early intervention with Professor Muriel Bamblett, Yorta Yorta woman and CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency discussing Alternatives to Child Removal including leadership, healing and diversionary programs.

The second conference theme focussed on court, prison and post-release programs. Compelling information about the over-representation of people with disabilities in the criminal justice system was provided, including concerns about fitness to stand trial and under-assessment of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Mervyn Eades, Nyoongar man and Eddie Mabo Social Justice Award winner explained the trusting relationships developed with ex-prisoners through the Ngalla Maya program, and their contribution to supporting prisoners in employment post-prison release.

The third conference theme of healing reviewed the work by Gamarada Healing the Life Training, the well-evaluated Kids Caring for Country and Learning our Way Program from Murwillumbah, and web-based resources of the Lateral Peace Project.

Plans for the Mount Tabor Station Healing and Rehabilitation Centre in central Queensland were unveiled by Keelen Mailman, Bidjara woman, author of The Power of Bones and Mother of the Year winner, developed in partnership with Keith Hamburger, ex-Director of the Queensland Corrective Services Commission.

The final conference session focussed on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions to addressing underlying factors for incarceration, which Professor Harry Blagg from the University of WA argued are an extension of colonial dispossession. Chris Lee from the University of Southern Queensland and Gerry Georgatos from the Institute for Social Justice and Human Rights in WA described tangible strategies for improving in-prison and post-release education and training, citing some excellent results from their programs.

NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Tauto Sansbury reflected on his own life journey and how his understanding of the need for a Treaty developed over time. He envisions a Treaty as an opportunity for new relationships and accountabilities in law, which will promote self-determination and reduce incarceration rates.

But the question remains: Why won’t Australian leaders embrace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander solutions to the criminal justice crisis? Perhaps this will be the theme of the 2017 Closing the Prison Gap gathering? The organising committee is looking for contributions for next year’s event and program.

This is an abbreviated version of an article that first appeared at Croakey.org. Dr Megan Williams is a member of the #JustJustice team, a Senior Research Fellow in the Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Research team at Western Sydney University, and a Wiradjuri descendant through her father’s family. Other #JustJustice team members are Summer May Finlay, Marie McInerney, Melissa Sweet and Mitchell Ward

Why won’t Australian leaders embrace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander solutions to the criminal justice crisis?

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