” A Shorten Labor Government will deliver a $107 million package to address the disadvantage experienced by First Nations peoples in the justice system.
Nowhere is the story of unfairness and diminished opportunity more clearly defined than in the justice gap experienced by First Nations peoples.
An Indigenous man is 15 times more likely to be imprisoned than a non-Indigenous man and an Indigenous woman is 21 times more likely to be in custody than a nonIndigenous woman. An Indigenous child is 24 times more likely to be in detention.
This is unacceptable. “
The key First Nations Justice policy Labor announcements include:
- $21.75 million to continue Justice Reinvestment in Bourke as well as three new trial sites and to establish a National Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Body
- $40 million for ATSILS
- $4 million for the peak body NATSILS
- $21.5 million for Family Violence Prevention Legal Services
- Developing justice targets as part of the Closing the Gap framework
- Retaining the Indigenous Legal Assistance Program as a standalone program $42.5 million to Community Legal Centres for family violence work
- $21 million to double the number of Specialist Domestic Violence Units and Health Justice partnerships
” Health justice partnerships in the ACCHO context address people’s fears and distrust about the justice system, by providing a culturally safe setting in which to have conversations about legal matters.
I believe that the development of collaborative, integrated service models such as Law Yarn can provide innovative and effective solutions for addressing not only the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the justice system, but also the health gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Selected extracts from Donnella Mills Acting Chair of NACCHO keynote speaker 9 April
“NACCHO has developed a set of policy #Election2019 recommendations that if adopted, fully funded and implemented by the incoming Federal Government, will provide a pathway forward for improvements in our health outcomes.
We are calling on all political parties to include these 10 recommendations in their election platforms and make a real commitment to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and help us Close the Gap.”
“ The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (QLD) Ltd (ATSILS) has welcomed the funding commitments announced today by The Australian Labor Party (ALP) in relation to addressing family violence and the disadvantage experienced by First Nations peoples in the justice system.
The $107 million justice package announced today by the ALP is a comprehensive strategy that balances common sense with innovation and will go a long way to improving access to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should they win Government at the upcoming federal election.
ATSILS have been operating under a cloud of funding uncertainty for far too long so we commend the commonsense approach announced by the ALP to maintain direct funding through the Indigenous Legal Assistance Program. This decision demonstrates a clear belief in the importance of self-determination and community control in the delivery of culturally safe services.”
ATSILS CEO Shane Duffy : Full Press Release continued Part 2 below
” The National FVPLS Forum has welcomed the Federal election commitment from Labor to increase funding to Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLSs). Phynea Clarke, Deputy Convenor praised the commitment to increase and provide funding beyond June 2020, which has been long called for.
I am extremely pleased that Labor have committed to $21.5 million in additional funding for FVPLSs, something we have long been calling for. The commitment provides funding beyond end of June 2020, when our current funding is due to end.
All our services are having to turn away clients as a regular occurrence. This increase in funding will mean our services can build their capacity to support more clients and expand their geographic reach”.
Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLSs). Phynea Clarke, Deputy Convenor : See Full Press release Part 3
“Change the Record has welcomed commitments from the Australian Labor Party and The Australian Greens on critical Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice issues.
Today the Australian Labor Party announced a $107 million First Nations justice package. We welcome the Australian Labor Party’s commitments to justice targets, justice reinvestment, Family Violence Prevention Legal Services and to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services,”
Change the Record and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have been calling for these changes for many years, and now our voices are being heard. These commitments are practical solutions and necessary first steps toward ending the over-incarceration of our people.”
Cheryl Axleby, co-chair of Change the Record. See Full Press Release Part 4 below
For too long, our justice system has failed First Nations peoples. It has been 28 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and yet the vicious cycle that drives the unacceptable over-representation of Indigenous Australians in our justice system continues.
Labor believes that in tackling the entrenched disadvantages faced by First Nations peoples in the justice system, we must be guided by those who live the reality of the justice gap – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their community-controlled, representative organisations.
Labor’s plan to close the justice gap includes:
Properly funding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS)
Labor will strengthen access to justice for First Nations peoples by providing $40 million over four years to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS). This will greatly enhance the ability of ATSILS to fulfil their three critical functions:
- Improving access to justice for Indigenous Australians.
- Reducing the disproportionate disadvantage experienced by Indigenous people in the justice system.
- Providing cost effective legal assistance.
Labor has also committed to maintaining the independence of the Indigenous Legal Assistance Program, which gives effect to the fundamental principle of selfdetermination for First Nations peoples by funding ATSILS as the communitycontrolled providers of culturally safe legal services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples. This will reverse the Morrison Government’s decision to roll ATSILS into the general funding stream for Commonwealth legal assistance, announced in the 2019-20 Budget in April.
In addition, Labor will provide $4 million over four years to the ATSILS peak body, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS), to build its capacity to lead the sector and to support its strategic plan to improve justice outcomes based on community, culture and empowerment.
A Shorten Labor Government will work with the States and Territories to adopt justice targets under the Closing the Gap framework, so that the inequality in justice outcomes can be properly highlighted and to address unacceptable levels of incarceration among First Nations peoples.
This will focus national attention on Closing the Gap in these areas, complementing existing targets in education, employment, housing, life expectancy and mortality.
Labor will uphold the principle that imprisonment should be an option of last resort.
A Shorten Labor Government will also work with state and territory governments to grow and sustain alternative sentencing mechanisms such as Koori Courts and mediation forums to reduce pressure on the overburdened justice system.
Progressing justice reinvestment
A Shorten Labor Government will invest $21.75 million over four years into progressing justice reinvestment.
Labor will commit to extending the justice reinvestment project currently underway in Bourke, New South Wales, and introduce the trial to sites in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Labor will establish three new launch sites in a major city, regional town and remote community that build on existing community-led initiatives to explore the role of justice reinvestment in preventing crime and reducing incarceration.
These sites will be identified by working with state and territory governments, and with justice reinvestment initiatives currently at various stages of development across Australia.
Labor will support and resource a national framework for justice reinvestment. Through COAG, Labor will establish a national coordinating body, as recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission, to build the evidence base, collect data and measure progress as the new targets are implemented, and to monitor the effectiveness of justice reinvestment in the Australian context.
Family Violence Prevention Grants
Labor will work in partnership with First Nations women to address unacceptably high rates of violence against Indigenous women. Labor will provide a dedicated
First Nations’ stream of the $60 million Community Prevention & Frontline Service Grants program to support community-led and culturally-appropriate prevention programs.
We will also invest in Aboriginal-controlled frontline services, including at least $20 million for refuges and safe houses and a $21.5 million boost to Family Violence Prevention Legal Services over four years.
These commitments form part of Labor’s comprehensive strategy to address the scourge of family violence.
The injustice dealt to First Nations peoples is a stain on our whole nation. We must rise to the challenge of closing the justice gap.
If we properly fund First Nations-led legal services, show leadership with nationally coordinated targets, and invest in what works – we can close the justice gap.
This election is a choice between a properly funded, First Nations-led and evidence-based justice package under Labor, or further cuts and chaos to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services under the Liberals.
Only Labor can be trusted to deliver a fair go under the law for First Australians.
Part 2 ATSILS
“The announced funding boost of $40 million to ATSILS around the nation is a welcomed measure in this climate of over-incarceration where the demand for our services regularly sees our organisation operating with exceeded capacity. Although this funding increase is not of the scale recommended by the Productivity Commission’s – Access to Justice Arrangements Inquiry Report 2014, it is a positive step in the right direction and will help to increase the reach of our culturally safe services to many vulnerable people in regional and remote regions where ATSILS are often the only service providers.
ATSILS also welcomes funding commitments for Family Violence Prevention Legal Services and Community Legal Services to provide domestic violence front line support and the increased funding committed to our national peak body NATSILS.
A serious commitment to innovative justice reinvestment solutions and justice targets are key elements needed to effectively address the over- incarceration and family violence experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
We have been advocating for increased support for these measures for many years, and on the back of the undeniable success of the justice reinvestment pilot project in Bourke, it is extremely encouraging to see the ALP commit funding for a National Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Body and for further trial sites throughout Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Read and Download full FVPLS Press Release HERE
Read and Download full Change the Record Press Release HERE