NACCHO Aboriginal Health Closing the Gap #justjustice : PM overturns Government’s opposition to target Indigenous imprisonment

             This post contains 7 articles on the issue of reducing Indigenous Incarceration rates  #JustJustice

“I am pleased that COAG has agreed to progress renewed targets in the year ahead.

A cornerstone of the refresh will be engaging meaningfully with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and organisations, including at a local level to make sure the agenda reflects their needs and aspirations for the future.”

 

1.Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has overturned his Government’s staunch opposition to establishing a target for reducing Indigenous imprisonment rates.

 ” The Labor Party is encouraged by reports today that the Prime Minister might finally overturn his government’s ridiculous opposition to implementing justice targets under the Closing the Gap framework.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has long ignored the calls for justice targets, despite repeated urgings from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and expert bodies.

If Malcolm Turnbull is ready to accept that his Minister is wrong, and to adopt Labor’s policy, that is excellent news.

National justice targets will allow us to focus on community safety, particularly the protection of women and children, preventing crime and reducing incarceration rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

2.The Hon Bill Shorten LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS or read in full below

Download Press Release 25 March Labor CTG Prison Rates

 

 ” Lives can be changed, hope can flourish and outcomes achieved but the helping hand is needed – pre-release and post-release. As a society we should be doing everything possible to keep people out of prison – and not everything we can to jail people, but where incarceration is the outcome, then everything must be done to help the people within them.

“They look at us like we are nothing or we are animals,” Former prisoner

It is better I am here so my children can have some hope,” Prisoner

“There is nothing for us to do inside except to keep our heads down and avoid trouble,” Prisoner

We need to invest in education opportunities while people are incarcerated in Juvenile Detention and in adult prisons and from effectively as soon as someone is incarcerated. What is on the outside can also be on the inside – prisons do not have to be vile dungeons of psychological torment. They can be communities of educational institutions, places of learning, social support structures.

3.Transform Australia’s prisons by Gerry Georgatos from Stringer

4.NACCHO

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #prisons #JustJustice : Terms of references released Over-representation of Aboriginal peoples in our prisons

 ” It’s a record, but not one to be proud of: one in four prisoners in NSW jails are Indigenous, a statistic that has risen by 35 per cent since the Coalition government came to power in 2011.

The Minister for Corrections David Elliott conceded “it is a tragedy”. Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders represented 24 per cent of the prison population in October 2016, up from 22 per cent in March 2011 “

5. NSW See Article here

” We know being incarcerated affects someone’s health and yet it is not one of the Closing the Gap targets. It’s Close the Gap Day and the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee’s Progress and Priorities report 2017 has been released.

The 2017 report calls for a social and cultural approach and covers many issues, including justice. This is the forth report from the Steering Committee to call for Justice Targets.

Since 2004, there has been a 95 per cent increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody. Over the same time, we have seen the crime rates decrease across the country.

Urgent action is required to reduce incarceration if we are ever to see life expectancy parity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.”

6.Summer May Finlay from Just Justice Croakey : Read Full report HERE Or Below

7.Dan Conifer for ABC TV reports from here

Despite making up just 3 per cent of the general population, about a quarter of Australia’s prison population is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

The Greens, Labor, the Australian Medical Association, lawyers and other groups have long urged the Coalition to add a federal justice target to the Closing the Gap goals.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert last month renewed her push in a letter to Mr Turnbull.

Mr Turnbull recently replied, indicating the target would be considered amid a current review of the decade-old targets.

“I am pleased that COAG has agreed to progress renewed targets in the year ahead,” Mr Turnbull wrote.

“A cornerstone of the refresh will be engaging meaningfully with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and organisations, including at a local level to make sure the agenda reflects their needs and aspirations for the future.

“I have invited the Opposition and the crossbench to participate, particularly all of our Indigenous members of Parliament.”

Conspicuously, Mr Turnbull did not rule out the target.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has repeatedly rejected the idea of a federal justice target.

“The Commonwealth can’t have a justice target,” Senator Scullion said in September last year.

“It does absolutely nothing because we have none of the levers to affect the outcomes in terms of incarceration or the justice system but the states and territories do.”

Mr Turnbull reports to Parliament every year on seven Closing the Gap targets, such as Indigenous school attendance and life expectancy.

Senator Siewert said she was now more hopeful of change.

“I’m a little bit more optimistic that in fact they’re now looking at it a bit more favourably and see the sense in having a justice target,” she said.

“I hope they move swiftly on it and I’m looking forward to progress.”

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young people are over 20 times more likely to be in jail than their peers.

The rate of Aboriginal women going to prison has more than doubled since 2000.

And fresh statistics from New South Wales show there has been a 35 per cent increase in Aboriginal inmates in the state’s prisons since 2011 — from 2,269 to 3,059.

‘I find it embarrassing’: Wyatt

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said he was glad the door had been opened to the idea.

“That’s very heartening, especially as we go through a [youth detention] royal commission process,” he said.

“We are talking with the Commonwealth about what that may mean as a future investment into the broken youth justice system here in the territory.”

Mr Gunner said if a federal target was not implemented, the Territory would go it alone.

West Australian Labor’s Ben Wyatt is the nations’ first Indigenous Treasurer.

He has backed the federal target, but knows it is states that control the levers which make a difference.

“I would support anything that focuses the mind of a Government to reduce the rate of Indigenous incarceration,” he said.

“Western Australia is the worst in the nation, we need to have a strong, powerful look at how we go about reducing the number of Aboriginal people we have in our prisons.

“I find it embarrassing and personally distressing that my state continues to do that.”

2.TURNBULL MUST ACT ON INCARCERATION RATES & SUPPORT JUSTICE TARGETS : Labor Press Release

The Labor Party is encouraged by reports today that the Prime Minister might finally overturn his government’s ridiculous opposition to implementing justice targets under the Closing the Gap framework.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has long ignored the calls for justice targets, despite repeated urgings from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and expert bodies.

If Malcolm Turnbull is ready to accept that his Minister is wrong, and to adopt Labor’s policy, that is excellent news.

National justice targets will allow us to focus on community safety, particularly the protection of women and children, preventing crime and reducing incarceration rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The targets should be developed in cooperation with state and territory governments, law enforcement agencies, legal and community services, and guided by community leaders, Elders and Aboriginal representative organisations.

There has to be as much focus on the factors that can help prevent the high levels of incarceration, as well as what happens to individuals once in the criminal justice and corrective services system.

A young Indigenous man today is more likely to go to jail than university, and an Indigenous adult is 15 times more likely to be imprisoned than a non-Indigenous adult.

These appalling numbers demand action, including the reversal of the Government’s cuts to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, further examination of noncustodial options and alternatives to mandatory detention, as well as a focus on justice reinvestment.

We call on the Prime Minister to urgently confirm this report, and work with Labor to make justice targets a reality.

The Turnbull Government can’t keep ignoring the Indigenous incarceration crisis. It must start showing national leadership and confront this challenge. Business as usual will not work. If we continue with the same approach, we’ll get the same results.

SATURDAY, 25 March

6.What gets measured gets managed

Summer May Finlay writes:

We know being incarcerated affects someone’s health and yet it is not one of the Closing the Gap targets. It’s Close the Gap Day and the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee’s Progress and Priorities report 2017 has been released.

The 2017 report calls for a social and cultural approach and covers many issues, including justice. This is the fourth report from the Steering Committee to call for Justice Targets.

Since 2004, there has been a 95 per cent increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody. Over the same time, we have seen the crime rates decrease across the country.

Urgent action is required to reduce incarceration if we are ever to see life expectancy parity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

Despite the urgency of the need, and the calls by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations for an urgent response to this need, there has been no indication that governments are responding with the level of urgency required.

While governments fail to measure justice targets at the national level, there can be no management of the issues.

It’s been 25 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and very few of the recommendations have been implemented. It should be no surprise then that in the four years the Close the Gap Steering Committee have been calling for Justice targets that the Federal Government is moving at a glacial pace.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion had resisted the calls for Closing the Gap justice targets. Until late 2016, there appeared to be no consideration that the federal government might even have a role to play in reducing incarceration.

In September 2016, Minister Scullion said he would push the states and territories to introduce Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice targets. He said it is a state/territory responsibility and that the Federal government doesn’t have any of the levers to reduce Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration. This demonstrates a clear lack of understanding of the issues that drive incarceration, such as violence rates, including social determinants such as poverty and socio-economic disadvantage.

We have yet to hear whether Minister Scullion was able to work with the states and territories and see them introduce targets.

The Steering Committee reports are not the only reports which address the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration rates.

Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull was handed the Redfern Statement by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders at a breakfast at Parliament House last month. It calls for a focus on targets addressing incarceration and access to justice.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders want to see solutions which are evidence-based with a focus on prevention and early intervention.

Despite the Prime Minister being handed the Statement, the Federal Government do not appear to even seriously consider the inclusion of a justice target. At the Redfern Statement breakfast, the Prime Minister said:

“My Government will not shy away from our responsibility. And we will uphold the priorities of education, employment, health and the right of all people to be safe from family violence.”

He made no mention of incarceration and justice.

The Redfern Statement represented the unified voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in health, justice, children and families, disability and family violence sectors. Eighteen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations were the drivers. These organisations have a wealth of knowledge and experience that should not be dismissed. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations’ core business is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs. They know what works in our communities.

The Federal Government can act quickly when they want on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice issues. After Four Corners aired video footage of an Aboriginal boy Dylan Voller hooded and strapped to a chair in the youth detention centre Don Dale, Prime Minister Turnbull initiated a Royal Commission into youth detention and child protection in the Northern Territory.

Our people are continuing to die way too young and one of the contributing factors is incarceration; the Federal Government is either ignoring the issue, or hoping someone else deals with it.

How many more people do we need to lose before they look to address all factors contributing to a reduced life expectancy, including #JustJustice?

• Download, read and share the 2nd edition of #JustJustice – HERE.


 

3.Transform Australia’s prisons

The more west we journey across the nation the higher the arrest rates, the higher the jailing rates. In the last two decades Australia’s prison population has doubled. The national prison population is nearly 40,000. More than 85 per cent of inmates have not completed a Year 12 education, more than 60 per cent have not completed Year 10, while 40 per cent did not get past Year 9. More than half were not in any paid employment when they were arrested, while half had been homeless.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015), Tasmanian prisons incarcerated 519 inmates, the Australian Capital Territory 396, NSW 11,797, Queensland 7,318, Victoria 6,219, South Australia 2,732, the Northern Territory 1,593 and Western Australia incarcerated 5,555. There are 5 prisons in Tasmania, one in the ACT, 34 in NSW, 10 in Queensland, 13 in Victoria, 8 in South Australia, 4 in the Northern Territory and 16 in Western Australia.

As the prison population has increased so has the number of privately managed prisons – 2 in NSW, 2 in Queensland, one in South Australia and 2 in Western Australia. The national prison population may double again but it appears this will only take ten years. Privately managed prisons will increase. The majority of the prison population is comprised of males but the female prison population is increasing. Ten per cent of Queensland’s prison population is comprised of women, 9 per cent in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

More than 10,000 inmates are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders – 28 per cent of the total prison population. 94 per cent of the Northern Territory prison population is comprised of Aboriginal peoples, 38 per cent in Western Australia, 32 per cent in Queensland, 24 per cent in NSW, 23 per cent in South Australia, 19 per cent in the ACT, 15 per cent in Tasmania and 8 per cent in Victoria. Non-Aboriginal Australians are incarcerated at less than 200 per 100,000 adults but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders adults are incarcerated at 2,330 per 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults. It is worst in Western Australia where Aboriginal adults are incarcerated at close to the world’s highest jailing rate – 2nd highest at 3,745 per 100,000. But Western Australia enjoys the nation’s highest median wage – one of the world’s highest but not so for its Aboriginal peoples. If you are born Black in Western Australia you have a two in three chance of living poor your whole life.

If you are born Black in the Northern Territory you have a three in four chance of living poor your whole life. One in 8 of the nation’s Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders have been to jail. One in 6 has been to jail in Western Australia and for the Northern Territory. Poverty, homelessness, racism sets up people for failure, for prison, for reoffending. The situational trauma of incarceration is compounded by its ongoing punitive bent – and the majority of people come out of prison in worse condition than when they went in.

Art programs alone and some recreation will not transform the lives of the majority in the significant ways that matter. The prison experience is one of dank concrete cells, of isolation, of a constancy of trauma and anxieties, of entrenching depression and for many a degeneration to aggressive complex traumas. Australian prisons are not settings for healing, trauma recovery, restorative therapies, wellbeing, educational opportunities and positive future building. But they should be and can be.

Lives can be changed, hope can flourish and outcomes achieved but the helping hand is needed – pre-release and post-release. As a society we should be doing everything possible to keep people out of prison – and not everything we can to jail people, but where incarceration is the outcome, then everything must be done to help the people within them.

They look at us like we are nothing or we are animals,” Former prisoner

It is better I am here so my children can have some hope,” Prisoner

There is nothing for us to do inside except to keep our heads down and avoid trouble,” Prisoner

We need to invest in education opportunities while people are incarcerated in Juvenile Detention and in adult prisons and from effectively as soon as someone is incarcerated. What is on the outside can also be on the inside – prisons do not have to be vile dungeons of psychological torment. They can be communities of educational institutions, places of learning, social support structures.

There are 10, 11 and 12 year olds in Juvenile Detention facilities – child prisons – and the situational trauma of incarceration should not be allowed to degenerate these children into serious psychological hits. These are critically at-risk children who need support and not the rod. The majority of the children will respond to the helping hand, as long as they are validated and not denigrated.

With Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children, nearly 80 per cent will be jailed again after release from their first stint in Juvenile Detention. The punitive with all its associated denigrations is not working. The psychosocial self has been humiliated, debilitated, stressed by traumas. It is positive that there is an increased onus on post-prison mentoring, healing and education and work programs. There should be much more of this but we should not be waiting for this as post-prison options only and that all this should be in place from the commencement of incarceration. This would assist in reducing depression, anxieties and the building up of a sense of hopelessness. I am advocating for all so-called correctional facilities to be significantly transformed into communities of learning and opportunity. This is what any reasonably-minded society would support.

In NSW, 48 per cent of adult prisoners released during 2013 returned to prison within two years. In Victoria, 44 per cent returned within two years. In Queensland it was 41 per cent. In Western Australia it was 36 per cent. Western Australia incarcerates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at 17 times the non-Aboriginal rate while for Queensland, NSW and Victoria it is 11 times. In South Australia 38 per cent of adult prisoners released during 2013 returned within two years. South Australia incarcerates Aboriginal people at 13 times the non-Aboriginal rate. In Tasmania 40 per cent were returned within two years. In the ACT 39 per cent were returned and Aboriginal people were 15 times more likely to be incarcerated. In the Northern Territory 58 per cent were returned and Aboriginal people were 14 times more likely to be incarcerated. Australia’s prisons – no different in my experience with child protection authorities – carry on as if people cannot change. Australian prisons are administered by the States and Territories and therefore the onus for change must be argued to them although the Commonwealth can galvanise change and argue an onus on the humane, educative, transformational instead of the punitive which has led to the building of more ‘correctional facilities’ and the filling of them.

 

“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons,” Fyodor Dostoyevsky

As soon as we are locked up there should be plans for us to better us,” Former prisoner

Too many of us come out with less hope than ever before,” Former prisoner

NACCHO #IWD2017 Aboriginal Women’s #justjustice :Indigenous, disabled, imprisoned – the forgotten women of #IWD2017

 

” Merri’s story is not uncommon. Studies show that women with physical, sensory, intellectual, or psychosocial disabilities (mental health conditions) experience higher rates of domestic and sexual violence and abuse than other women.

More than 70 per cent of women with disabilities in Australia have experienced sexual violence, and they are 40 per cent more likely to face domestic violence than other women.

Indigenous women are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of domestic violence than non-Indigenous women. Indigenous women who have a disability face intersecting forms of discrimination because of their gender, disability, and ethnicity that leave them at even greater risk of experiencing violence — and of being involved in violence and imprisoned

Kriti Sharma is a disability rights researcher for Human Rights Watch

This is our last NACCHO post supporting  International Women’s Day

Further NACCHO reading

Women’s Health ( 275 articles )  or Just Justice  See campaign details below

” 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

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, this week  I think of ‘Merri’, one of the most formidable and resilient women I have ever met.

A 50-year-old Aboriginal woman with a mental health condition, Merri grew up in a remote community in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. When I met her, Merri was in pre-trial detention in an Australian prison.

It was the first time she had been to prison and it was clear she was still reeling from trauma. But she was also defiant.

“Six months ago, I got sick of being bashed so I killed him,” she said. “I spent five years with him [my partner], being bashed. He gave me a freaking [sexually transmitted] disease. Now I have to suffer [in prison].”

I recently traveled through Western Australia, visiting prisons, and I heard story after story of Indigenous women with disabilities whose lives had been cycles of abuse and imprisonment, without effective help.

For many women who need help, support services are simply not available. They may be too far away, hard to find, or not culturally sensitive or accessible to women.

The result is that Australia’s prisons are disproportionately full of Indigenous women with disabilities, who are also more likely to be incarcerated for minor offenses.

For numerous women like Merri in many parts of the country, prisons have become a default accommodation and support option due to a dearth of appropriate community-based services. As with countless women with disabilities, Merri’s disability was not identified until she reached prison. She had not received any support services in the community.

Merri has single-handedly raised her children as well as her grandchildren, but without any support or access to mental health services, life in the community has been a struggle for her.

Strangely — and tragically — prison represented a respite for Merri. With eyes glistening with tears, she told me: “[Prison] is very stressful. But I’m finding it a break from a lot of stress outside.”

Today, on International Women’s Day, the Australian government should commit to making it a priority to meet the needs of women with disabilities who are at risk of violence and abuse.

In 2015, a Senate inquiry into the abuse people with disabilities face in institutional and residential settings revealed the extensive and diverse forms of abuse they face both in institutions and the community. The inquiry recommended that the government set up a Royal Commission to conduct a more comprehensive investigation into the neglect, violence, and abuse faced by people with disabilities across Australia.

The government has been unwilling to do so, citing the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Quality and Safeguard Framework as adequate.

While the framework is an important step forward, it would only reach people who are enrolled under the NDIS. Its complaints mechanism would not provide a comprehensive look at the diversity and scale of the violence people with disabilities experience, let alone at the ways in which various intersecting forms of discrimination affect people with disabilities.

The creation of a Royal Commission, on the other hand, could give voice to survivors of violence inside and outside the NDIS. It could direct a commission’s resources at a thorough investigation into the violence people with disabilities face in institutional and residential settings, as well as in the community.

The government urgently needs to hear directly from women like Merri about the challenges they face, and how the government can do better at helping them. Whether or not there is a Royal Commission, the government should consult women with disabilities, including Indigenous women, and their representative organizations to learn how to strengthen support services.

Government services that are gender and culturally appropriate, and accessible to women across the country, can curtail abuse and allow women with disabilities to live safe, independent lives in the community.

Kriti Sharma is a disability rights researcher for Human Rights Watch

 

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How you can support #JustJustice

• Download, read and share the 2nd edition – HERE.

Buy a hard copy from Gleebooks in Sydney (ask them to order more copies if they run out of stock).

• Send copies of the book to politicians, policy makers and other opinion leaders.

• Encourage journals and other relevant publications to review #JustJustice.

• Encourage your local library to order a copy, whether the free e-version or a hard copy from Gleebooks.

• Follow Guardian Australia’s project, Breaking the Cycle.

Readers may also be interested in these articles:

NACCHO #Aboriginal Health and #Racism #justjustice : The importance of teaching doctors and nurses about unconscious bias

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 “Australian universities, medical schools and health systems grappling with how to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their institutions as participants and staff – and how to produce equality of outcomes – need to deal with both overt and systemic factors of racism.

In Australia, the inability to deal with unconscious bias and racism has serious health effects on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These include increased stress, mental ill-health and suicide, systemic racism in education, sports, justice and the public sector.

In a national survey of Aboriginal patients, 32.4% reported racial discrimination in medical settings most or all of the time. “

Gregory Phillips, Associate Professor and Research Fellow in Aboriginal Health at the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute, considers the coroner’s recommendations in light of Australia’s “inability to deal with unconscious bias and racism”, in and out of the health system. He says our responses must go far beyond cultural awareness training and its implicit judgements:

Image above : Equality can only work if everyone starts from the same place, whereas equity is about making sure people get access to the same opportunities. Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus Maguire/madewithangus.com, CC BY

NACCHO Resources

Cultural awareness isn’t enough

 ” Teaching health professionals about Indigenous health will effectively require teaching about unconscious bias and racism; one’s own culture, values and motivations. It requires training in “unlearning” preconceptions, regular reflections on one’s own practices; as well as education about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.”  See Below

” The National Cultural Respect Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health 2016–2026 (the Framework) was recently launched by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council .

This ten year framework seeks to guide delivery of culturally safe, responsive, and quality health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

Download the COAG Cultural Respect Framework here :

cultural_respect_framework_1december2016_1

Ms Dhu coronial findings show importance of teaching doctors and nurses about unconscious bias

Originally published at The Conversation and then Croakey /JustJustice

In delivering her findings of the coronial inquest into the death of 22-year-old Ms Dhu during time spent in a Western Australian jail cell, state coroner Ros Fogliani was highly critical of some actions of police and medical staff.

She reportedly said Ms Dhu’s medical care in one instance was “deficient” and both police and hospital staff were influenced by preconceived notions about Aboriginal people.

Ms Dhu died on 4 August 2014 from staphylococcal septicaemia – a severe bacterial infection – and pneumonia, which were complicated by a previously obtained rib fracture. Released CCTV footage showed Ms Dhu moaning from pain, saying it was ten out of ten.

It was reported an emergency doctor considered her pain real but exaggerated for “behavioural gain”. Another doctor also noted Ms Dhu suffered from “behavioural issues” while a constable thought she was “faking” her suffering.

Ms Dhu’s case is not the first instance of mistreatment of an Aboriginal person in custody or a medical setting, nor is it likely the last. And while coroner Fogliani’s recommendations included mandatory, ongoing cultural competency training for police officers, to assist with health issues and other dealings with Aboriginal people, this isn’t enough.

For thirty years, Australian institutions have implemented cultural awareness programs. The thinking was if they taught staff about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, it would result in better lecturers, clinicians and policy-makers – and magically produce equity.

But this assumes Aboriginal culture is the problem. Like a deaf student in an all-hearing classroom, it is not the deaf student or their needs that are the problem, but a system that thinks an all-verbal and all-hearing teaching style is equal. The idea of equality itself entrenches systemic discrimination.

Unconscious bias

Singer Gurrumul Yunupingu has been suffering from chronic Hepatitis B since he was a child. ALAN PORRITT/AAP Image

 

 

 

In April, Darwin Hospital staff were under fire for allegedly leaving Aboriginal singer Gurrumul Yunupingu to bleed internally for eight hours. Media reported hospital staff noted Gurrumul’s liver damage was self-inflicted (a result of repeated heavy alcohol use) rather than being due to his chronic hepatitis B infection he had since he was a child.

We don’t know whether these allegations are true, but we do know unconscious bias exists in Australia. It refers to the instant judgements we make about other people and situations based on our own values, experiences and cultural and gender beliefs.

These judgements impact significantly on hiring and promotion decisions, how medical students make decisions, and in public discourse.

Regardless of merit or facts, research shows black or Indigenous people are more likely to be seen as less trustworthy; women to be risky prospects, and overweight people as irresponsible. Those with power and privilege judge those with less power for their inability to compete on terms set by the powerful.

So how is unconscious bias different to racism? Like an iceberg, unconscious bias is said to represent the beliefs, values and experiences (below water) that give rise to overt expressions of discrimination (above water).

There are two problems with these definitions, however. They don’t reveal how beliefs, values and experiences got into the subconscious in the first place. They may also imply it is not the responsibility of those with unconscious bias to change their implicit beliefs and explicit actions.

In Australia, the inability to deal with unconscious bias and racism has serious health effects on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These include increased stress, mental ill-health and suicide, systemic racism in education, sports, justice and the public sector.

In a national survey of Aboriginal patients, 32.4% reported racial discrimination in medical settings most or all of the time. These people felt they had been treated unfairly (which included being treated rudely or with disrespect; being ignored, insulted, harassed, stereotyped or discriminated against) because they were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Equality vs Equity

Public discussion about racism in Australia is often met with denial, discomfort and fragility. Some blame AFL player Adam Goodes for calling out racism – shooting the messenger is a common reaction.

Some stand with whistle blowers and defend their right to speak truth to power. Others completely deny racism’s existence, wishing it would go away because “we treat everyone the same”.

But the impulse to treat everyone the same confuses equality of inputs with equality of outcomes. As the below diagram shows, treating everyone with equal inputs (the same boxes) produces an inequality of outcomes (not everyone can access the game).

Alternatively, treating everyone differently, according to their needs and humanity is more likely to produce equality of outcomes where everyone can access the game. Equity deals not only with overt discrimination but the systemic factors that give rise to it.

Australian universities, medical schools and health systems grappling with how to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their institutions as participants and staff – and how to produce equality of outcomes – need to deal with both overt and systemic factors of racism.

Cultural awareness isn’t enough

Teaching health professionals about Indigenous health will effectively require teaching about unconscious bias and racism; one’s own culture, values and motivations. It requires training in “unlearning” preconceptions, regular reflections on one’s own practices; as well as education about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

Most importantly, if the clinician cannot see themselves, their privilege and power as a potential problem, this will inadvertently re-establish racism and unconscious bias.

People had mixed reactions when Adam Goodes spoke out on racism in Australia. DEAN LEWINS/AAP Image

Educators have found patiently moving Australian medical students who were initially hostile to Aboriginal health curricula through their discomfort to reach the “a-ha” moment, is a key teaching strategy in producing better prepared doctors.

Further, cultural awareness training assumes that even if we could train every individual staff member in a hospital to be perfectly culturally competent, they would then go on to magically produce better health outcomes.

But the systemic factors – workplace culture, policies, power, funding and criteria on which decisions are made – are critical if we want a culturally equitable society.

Improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people includes moving from a goal of equality to equity; teaching about racism and unconscious bias, not just culture; and making explicit the deeper transformational work of institutional decolonisation. We need to ask: how can power be shared? On whose terms are decisions made? Who owns institutions and services? Whose criteria are used to judge effectiveness?

The answer is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander definitions and measurement tools of success are more likely to contribute to producing better outcomes than those where unconscious bias and racism is implicit. The work of admitting and addressing institutional racism remains.

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How you can support #JustJustice

• Download, read and share the 2nd edition – HERE.

Buy a hard copy from Gleebooks in Sydney (ask them to order more copies if they run out of stock).

• Send copies of the book to politicians, policy makers and other opinion leaders.

• Encourage journals and other relevant publications to review #JustJustice.

• Encourage your local library to order a copy, whether the free e-version or a hard copy from Gleebooks.

• Follow Guardian Australia’s project, Breaking the Cycle.

Readers may also be interested in these articles:

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #prisons #JustJustice : Terms of references released Over-representation of Aboriginal peoples in our prisons

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 ” It is acknowledged that while laws and legal frameworks are an important factor contributing to over‑representation, there are many other social, economic, and historic factors that also contribute.

It is also acknowledged that while the rate of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and their contact with the criminal justice system – both as offenders and as victims – significantly exceeds that of non‑Indigenous Australians, the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people never commit criminal offences.”

Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General of Australia,

Refering to the Australian Law Reform Commission, an inquiry into the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our prisons:

Senator Siewert Greens Senator moved the following motion in the Senate

(a) notes that the adult incarceration rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples increased by 77.4 per cent from 2000 to 2015;

(b) acknowledges the growing incarceration rates of our First Peoples is shameful;

(c) notes the Redfern Statement, which was released in 2016 by over 55 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organisations and peak bodies, sets out a plan for addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ disadvantage;

(d) notes that the Redfern Statement calls for justice targets to help focus the effort to reduce Aboriginal incarceration; and

(e) calls on the Government to listen to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and adopt justice targets as a matter of urgency.

NACCHO NOTE :

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will tomorrow deliver the ninth Closing the Gap address to Parliament.

The annual report card tracks progress against targets in a range of areas, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and life expectancy.

But it does not include any targets around incarceration rates — despite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people making up a quarter of Australia’s prison population

ALRC inquiry into the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) welcomes the appointment by Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, of His Honour Judge Matthew Myers AM as an ALRC Commissioner.

Judge Myers will lead the new ALRC Inquiry into the high incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, announced by the Attorney-General in October 2016.

Judge Myers was appointed to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in 2012. He is a member of the Board of Family and Relationship Services Australia, the CatholicCare Advisory Council (Broken Bay Dioceses), Law Society of New South Wales Indigenous Issues Committee, Federal Circuit Court of Australia Indigenous Access to Justice Committee, Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Family Law Pathways Network, member of the Central Coast Family Law Pathways Network Steering Committee, member of the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council, member of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council,  member of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and member of the Honoured Friends of the Salvation Army.

Judge Myers said “I am honoured by this appointment and the opportunity to build on the valuable work of past Commissions, Inquiries and successful community initiatives. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children are significantly over represented in the Australian criminal justice system. This is something that cannot and should not be acceptable to any Australian. I look forward to undertaking a broad consultation across the country, working closely with stakeholders and the community to develop meaningful and practical solutions through law reform.”

ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher AM said, “We are delighted by this appointment and welcome Judge Myers to lead this very important Inquiry. To echo the Attorney-General, the over representation of Indigenous Australians in our prison system is a national tragedy. This Inquiry, with the expertise and leadership of Judge Myers, is an important step in developing much needed law reform in this area.”

The Attorney-General’s Department released draft Terms of Reference for Inquiry into the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for community consultation, in December 2016.

The consultation included Indigenous communities and organisations and state and territory governments.

Scope of the reference

  1. In developing its law reform recommendations, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) should have regard to:
    1. Laws and legal frameworks including legal institutions and law enforcement (police, courts, legal assistance services and prisons), that contribute to the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and inform decisions to hold or keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in custody, specifically in relation to:
      1. the nature of offences resulting in incarceration,
      2. cautioning,
      3. protective custody,
      4. arrest,
      5. remand and bail,
      6. diversion,
      7. sentencing, including mandatory sentencing, and
      8. parole, parole conditions and community reintegration.
    2. Factors that decision-makers take into account when considering (1)(a)(i-viii), including:
      1. community safety,
      2. availability of alternatives to incarceration,
      3. the degree of discretion available to decision-makers,
      4. incarceration as a last resort, and
      5. incarceration as a deterrent and as a punishment.
    3. Laws that may contribute to the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples offending and including, for example, laws that regulate the availability of alcohol, driving offences and unpaid fines.
    4. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their rate of incarceration.
    5. Differences in the application of laws across states and territories.
    6. Other access to justice issues including the remoteness of communities, the availability of and access to legal assistance and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language and sign interpreters.
  2.  In conducting its Inquiry, the ALRC should have regard to existing data and research[1] in relation to:
    1. best practice laws, legal frameworks that reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration,
    2. pathways of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through the criminal justice system, including most frequent offences, relative rates of bail and diversion and progression from juvenile to adult offending,
    3. alternatives to custody in reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration and/or offending, including rehabilitation, therapeutic alternatives and culturally appropriate community led solutions,
    4. the impacts of incarceration on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including in relation to employment, housing, health, education and families, and
    5. the broader contextual factors contributing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration including:
      1. the characteristics of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison population,
      2. the relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offending and incarceration and inter‑generational trauma, loss of culture, poverty, discrimination, alcohol and drug use, experience of violence, including family violence, child abuse and neglect, contact with child protection and welfare systems, educational access and performance, cognitive and psychological factors, housing circumstances and employment, and
      3. the availability and effectiveness of culturally appropriate programs that intend to reduce Aboriginal; and Torres Strait Islander offending and incarceration.
    6. fullsizerender
  3. In undertaking this Inquiry, the ALRC should identify and consider other reports, inquiries and action plans including but not limited to:
    1. the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody,
    2. the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory (due to report 1 August 2017),
    3. Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration’s Inquiry into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Experience of Law Enforcement and Justice Services,
    4. Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs’ inquiry into Indefinite Detention of People with Cognitive and Psychiatric impairment in Australia,
    5. Senate Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs inquiry into Harmful Use of Alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities,
    6. reports of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner,
    7. the ALRC’s inquiries into Family violence and Family violence and Commonwealth laws, and
    8. the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

The ALRC should also consider the gaps in available data on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration and consider recommendations that might improve data collection.

  1. In conducting its inquiry the ALRC should also have regard to relevant international human rights standards and instruments.

Consultation

  1. In undertaking this inquiry, the ALRC should identify and consult with relevant stakeholders including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their organisations, state and territory governments, relevant policy and research organisations, law enforcement agencies, legal assistance service providers and the broader legal profession, community service providers and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Timeframe

  1. The ALRC should provide its report to the Attorney-General by 22 December 2017.

[1] It is not the intention that the Australian Law Reform Commission will undertake independent research or evaluation of existing programs, noting that this falls outside its legislative responsibilities and expertise.

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NACCHO Invites all health practitioners and staff to a webinar : Working collaboratively to support the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal youth in crisis

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NACCHO invites all health practitioners and staff to the webinar: An all-Indigenous panel will explore youth suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The webinar is organised and produced by the Mental Health Professionals Network and will provide participants with the opportunity to identify:

  • Key principles in the early identification of youth experiencing psychological distress.
  • Appropriate referral pathways to prevent crises and provide early intervention.
  • Challenges, tips and strategies to implement a collaborative response to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in crisis.

Join hundreds of doctors, nurses and mental health professionals around the nation for an interdisciplinary panel discussion. The panellists with a range of professional experience are:

  • Dr Louis Peachey (Qld Rural Generalist)
  • Dr Marshall Watson (SA Psychiatrist)
  • Dr Jeff Nelson (Qld Psychologist)
  • Facilitator: Dr Mary Emeleus (Qld GP and Psychotherapist)

Read more about the panellists.

Working collaboratively to support the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in crisis.

Date:  Thursday 23rd February, 2017

Time: 7.15 – 8.30pm AEDT

REGISTER

No need to travel to benefit from this free PD opportunity. Simply register and log in anywhere you have a computer or tablet with high speed internet connection. CPD points awarded.

Learn more about the learning outcomes, other resources and register now.

For further information, contact MHPN on 1800 209 031 or email webinars@mhpn.org.au.

The Mental Health Professionals’ Network is a government-funded initiative that improves interdisciplinary collaborative mental health care practice in the primary health sector.  MHPN promotes interdisciplinary practice through two national platforms, local interdisciplinary networks and online professional development webinars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Human Rights : Nomination open 2017 National Indigenous #HumanRights Awards

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 ” The National Indigenous Human Rights Awards recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons who have made significant contribution to the advancement of human rights and social justice for their people.”

The awards were established in 2014, and will held annually. The inaugural awards were held at NSW Parliament House, and were welcomed by the Hon Linda Burney, MP and included key note speakers Dr Yalmay Yunupingu, Ms Gail Mabo, and Mr Anthony Mundine. A number of other distinguished guests such as political representatives, indigenous leaders and others in the fields of human rights and social justice also attended.

The Awards were presented by leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders, and leading Indigenous figures in Indigenous Social Justice and Human Rights. All recipients of the National Human Rights Award will be persons of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage.

To nominate someone for one of the three awards, please go to https://shaoquett.wufoo.com/forms/z4qw7zc1i3yvw6/
 
For further information, please also check out the Awards Guide at https://www.scribd.com/document/336434563/2017-National-Indigenous-Human-Rights-Awards-Guide

AWARD CATEGORIES:

 

DR YUNUPINGU AWARD – FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
 
To an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of Human Rights for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. Dr Yunupingu is the first Aboriginal from Arnhem Land to achieve a university degree. In 1986 Dr Yunupingu formed Yothu Yindi in 1986, combining Aboriginal (Yolngu) and non-Aboriginal (balanda) musicians and instrumentation.

In 1990 was appointed as Principal of Yirrkala Community School, Australia’s first Aboriginal Principal. Also in that year he established the Yothu Yindi Foundation to promote Yolngu cultural development, including Garma Festival of Traditional Cultures Dr Yumupingu was named 1992 Australian of the Year for his work in building bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities across Australia.

THE EDDIE MABO AWARD FOR ACHIEVEMENTS IN SOCIAL JUSTICE

In memory of Eddie Koiki Mabo (1936-1992), this award recognises an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of Social Justice for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Eddie Koiki Mabo was a Torres Straits Islander, most notable in Australian history for his role in campaigning for indigenous land rights.

From 1982 to 1991 Eddie campaigned for the rights of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to have their land rights recognised. Sadly, he died of cancer at the age of 56, five months before the High Court handed down its landmark land rights decision overturning Terra Nullius. He was 56 when he passed away.

THE ANTHONY MUNDINE AWARD FOR COURAGE

 

To an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of sports among Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Anthony Mundine is an Australian professional boxer and former rugby league player. He is a former, two-time WBA Super Middleweight Champion, a IBO Middleweight Champion, and an interim WBA Light Middleweight Champion boxer and a New South Wales State of Origin representative footballer. Before his move to boxing he was the highest paid player in the NRL.

In 2000 Anthony was named the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Person of the Year in 2000. He has also won the Deadly Award as Male Sportsperson of the Year in 2003, 2006 and 2007 amongst others.

He has a proud history of standing up for Indigenous peoples, telling a journalist from the Canberra Times: “I’m an Aboriginal man that speaks out and if I see something, I speak the truth.”

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #NTRC : Appalling treatment of youth highlighted at Royal Commission Inquiry

 dylan

 ” I was regularly stripsearched from the age of 11 and on one occasion was left in a cell overnight with no mattress, sheets or clothes. They turned the aircon on full blast, I was freezing all night … I was actually crying asking for a blanket.

I was left handcuffed in the back of a stifling hot van during a 1400 kilometre prison transfer from Alice Springs to Darwin. On the trip, I was denied bathroom stops “

Dylan Voller now aged 19 giving evidence at the NT Royal Commission into Youth Detention about his 8 years in out of detention centres . See full evidence article 2 below

Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory ( APO NT ) congratulates the Commonwealth and NT Government on calling the Royal Commission Inquiry into Youth Detention and Child Protection.

APO NT has for many years raised with the government the shocking treatment of youth in detention and the long term effects it has on youth

Today Dylan Voller gave evidence at the Royal Commission hearing and broke his silence about his treatment by authorities in Northern Territory youth detention centres.

Finally youth feel confident to tell their stories to Australia knowing they have strong support behind them.

Today’s evidence is moving, this is Dylan’s personal story which shows how troubled his life was and how fragile he is. We congratulate Dylan for having the courage to tell his story as it is good for the public to understand how difficult life is for many youth who have been in and are currently in youth detention

What we witnessed today is a story of how the juvenile justice system in the Northern Territory denied young people in its care the opportunity to enjoy even the most basic aspects of a normal life.

APO NT supports the Royal Commission inquiry to uncover where the systems have failed and make recommendations on how to improve laws, policies and practices in the Northern Territory to provide a safer future for our children. ”

John Paterson CEO AMSANT (NACCHO Affiliate ) and Spokesperson for APO NT

The Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory—APO NT—is an alliance comprising the Central Land Council (CLC), Northern Land Council (NLC), North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA), Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service (CAALAS) and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT (AMSANT).

The alliance was created to provide a more effective response to key issues of joint interest and concern affecting Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, including providing practical policy solutions to government.

 Support Services thru NACCHO Members and Relationship Australia

Discussing experiences of the child protection system or time spent in youth detention can be difficult. This is especially so for people who experienced abuse and are telling their story for the first time.

If you need support you can call 1800 500 853 – a free helpline answered locally

  • This is a free service and is available 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday
  • Support is available to children, young people, their families and others impacted by the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory
  • Experienced and qualified staff can refer you to a range of services including counsellors, therapeutic support, and health professionals.

Please note that calls made from a mobile phone may incur additional costs.

You can also contact the following services directly:

Danila Dilba Health Service

Services include:

  • face to face and telephone counselling,
  • support,
  • mental health support (including suicide prevention),
  • therapeutic group services, outreach, and referrals.
Phone
(08) 8942 5400 (Darwin, Palmerston and Malak)Website
Danila Dilba Health Service
Relationships Australia NT

Services include:

  • culturally appropriate support and information on how to engage with the Royal Commission and what to expect from the enquiry process,
  • face to face and telephone counselling by qualified counsellors,
  • support through legal processes,
  • referrals to legal and advocacy services,
  • pre and post counselling support to those directly affected who are giving evidence as well as their families,
  • mentoring by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural advisors, and healing camps on Country.
Phone
(08) 8923 4999 (Darwin and Katherine office with outreach to other areas) (08) 8950 4100 (Alice Springs office with outreach to other areas)Website
Relationships Australia Northern Territory
The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

Services include:

  • peer support including social, emotional, cultural, social and therapeutic support with intensive case management to young people at risk
  • support
  • outreach
  • trauma-informed counselling
  • medical support care coordination, and referrals.
Phone
(08) 8959 4750 (Alice Springs and surrounding areas)Website
Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, Alice Springs, NT

There are a number of other services available which can provide support wherever you are in the Northern Territory.

If you need support you can call the following services:

Dylan Voller gives evidence at Royal Commission

DYLAN Voller has broken his silence about his treatment by authorities in Northern Territory youth detention centres in shocking admissions at the Royal Commission.

As reported by Megan Pain News Ltd

Mr Voller’s treatment at Darwin’s Don Dale Youth Detention Centre sparked the Northern Territory child detention royal commission after footage of him shackled to a chair in a spit hood and a group of detainees being tear-gassed appeared on ABC’s Four Corners.

Mr Voller, 19, this afternoon told the commission that conditions in detention, which he first entered aged 11, were often miserable. He said detainees were regularly denied access to food, water and toilets as punishment for bad behaviour.

“There was one instance where I was in an isolation placement at Alice Springs detention centre and I was busting to go to the toilet … I had been asking for at least four or five hours,” Mr Voller said.

“They’d just been saying ‘no’.

“I ended up having to defecate into a pillow case because they wouldn’t let me out to go to the toilet.

“Eventually when I got let out the next morning, I was able to chuck that pillow case out.”

The key witness said on other occasions he was forced “to urinate out the door, out the back window, even in just normal rooms because they haven’t been able to come down”.

He said other detainees urinated out “the back window or into water bottles and chucking them out, like drink bottles and chucking them out the next day”.

Mr Voller said when guards allowed him to visit the bathroom they would only give him “five tiny little squares of toilet paper”.

“I’d go to the toilet, they’d only rip off, like, five tiny little squares of toilet paper and say: ‘That’s all you’re getting … make it last’,” Mr Voller said.

“They wouldn’t give us enough toilet paper.

“They done (sic) that quite a bit.”

According to the teen, detainees in Don Dale had to share underwear if they didn’t have enough money to buy their own. He described a prison economy where detainees could earn money through good behaviour and use it to buy items including underwear, deodorant, and CDs.

“The max you could earn was $4.50 a day and they’d take $1.50 off us every day for rent,” Mr Voller said.

“If you don’t buy your own underwear, the only other underwear you have the choice of wearing is the underwear everyone else wears.

“It gets washed, you pick out another pair, it gets washed and it goes through all of the males in Don Dale.”

The court heard Mr Voller was regularly stripsearched from the age of 11 and on one occasion was left in a cell overnight with no mattress, sheets or clothes. “They turned the aircon on full blast, I was freezing all night … I was actually crying asking for a blanket,” he said.

Mr Voller said he was left handcuffed in the back of a stifling hot van during a 1400 kilometre prison transfer from Alice Springs to Darwin. On the trip, he was denied bathroom stops and forced to defecate in his shirt.

“I threatened self-harm … choking myself with seat belts,” Mr Voller said.

He said the guards smoked heavily the whole way which made him vomit.

“I was vomiting, vomiting, I couldn’t get up, I was laying down in the chair and I was trying to break the chair so I could lay down flat,” he said.

Although poised throughout his testimony, Mr Voller’s eyes welled up on the stand, when senior counsel assisting Peter Callaghan SC moved his line of questioning to the topic of family.

“I had one case worker I remember that was saying my family didn’t really care about me and stuff like that,” Mr Voller said through tears.

“For a long time I started believing it, I guess.”

Mr Voller was this morning taken from the Darwin Correctional Centre to the Darwin Supreme Court to speak at the inquiry, which will also hear from Antoinette Carroll, a youth justice advocate who worked with Mr Voller for seven years.

This image from Four Corners screened on ABC shows Dylan Voller in the spit hood.

This image from Four Corners screened on ABC shows Dylan Voller in the spit hood.Source:ABC

The Royal Commission comes after footage screened in July showed Mr Voller and five other youths being tear-gassed and spit hooded at the Don Dale centre. Vision of Mr Voller strapped to a chair wearing a hood while in the notorious detention centre shocked many when they were screened by ABC’s Four Corners.

The court was closed but Mr Voller’s evidence was streamed online after the NT government lost a bid to delay further witnesses. He will not be cross-examined despite making allegations against 31 guards.

Other youths from Don Dale are expected to also give evidence.

According to his lawyer Peter O’Brien, Mr Voller has been eager to voice his version of events since the inquiry was announced on July 28.

Mr Voller was jailed at Holtze prison, Darwin in 2014 for a violent drug-fuelled binge.

“I’m definitely not proud of it, and it’s just humiliating and a lot of mistakes,” he said.

Both Mr O’Brien and Mr Voller’s mother, Joanne, said Mr Voller was concerned about giving evidence while still in custody and feared repercussions from prison guards.

“I have never seen my son so scared in all of his life,” Ms Voller said after visiting her son on Tuesday.

Mr Voller’s family has repeatedly called for his release from prison so he can speak freely before the commission.

He has also previously requested a transfer to Alice Springs prison.

But his mother said prison guards in Darwin have told him that going to Alice Springs would “increase his chances of getting bashed” because of its lack of CCTV cameras.

Mr Voller today told the court he finished school at age 10 and spent the following seven years in and out of care and youth detention.

He said it was during his first year in care he was first introduced to smoking marijuana and encouraged to commit crimes by older boys.

He described small, institutional rooms with painted-over windows.

“It was disgusting: cockroaches, dust, you felt trapped, you couldn’t really talk to anyone else,” Mr Voller said.

“The only bit of the outside world you got was when you were driving to court or yelling out at the top of your lungs to young people next door at the school.”

— With AAP

megan.palin@news.com.au

NACCHO Aboriginal Health report alert : 2016 #AHRC Social Justice / Close the Gap report released

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   “ The Australian Government follow through on the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 by:

  • providing new, quarantined funding for each of the activities outlined in that plan; and
  • continuing to work with the National Health Leadership Forum to oversee the progress of the plan. “

  Recommendation 7 see all 28 recommendations below

“Indigenous people are self-determining and resilient. We can provide clear input on policy, based on evidence and experience. The question is, when will governments listen?

“Governments and their policymakers must listen to, value and implement the practical solutions proposed by Indigenous Australians,”

Deputy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Robynne Quiggin

The Social Justice and Native Title Report 2016, tabled today 3 December  in Federal Parliament, includes an agenda for reform based on solutions proposed by Indigenous Australians.

DOWNLOAD the Social Justice report here : ahrc_sjntr_2016

Or Word file copy here

Close the Gap

This year also marks 10 years since the beginning of the Close the Gap Campaign on 17 March 2006. The response of the Australian Government to the campaign has led to a broader community understanding of the challenges for addressing Indigenous health inequality, and has led governments to make substantial improvements to their policies and programs nationwide.

This has included through the adoption of benchmarks and targets over a 25 year period, and significant reforms to inter-governmental funding arrangements to meet these. Solid progress has been made over the last decade, including in the areas of infant and child health, smoking rates and increased access to medicines.10

There is still a long way to go to achieve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within a generation, but it is important to acknowledge that sustained change is a long term goal. It will require consistent and concerted efforts to maintain funding and policy directions and support direct initiatives such as community controlled medical services.

DOWNLOAD the previous released Close the Gap Report referred to here

progress_priorities_report_ctg_2016_0

Australian Human Rights Commission President, Gillian Triggs, said governments must genuinely engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to address issues such as property rights, justice targets and escalating incarceration rates.

Professor Triggs, who is acting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, said significant numbers of Indigenous Australians are passing away from violence, illness or a combination of both while detained by the state.

“This rate of incarceration and death, 25 years after the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, is intolerable,” Professor Triggs said.

Deputy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Robynne Quiggin, said reforms proposed by Indigenous Australians during the year include:

  • Delivering on measures set out in the Redfern Statement
  • Implementing reforms developed by the Indigenous Property Rights Project
  • Allowing income programs to be opt-in

Ms Quiggin said these initiatives, together with continuing consultations on constitutional recognition, would enable structural change and deliver a system which values Indigenous knowledge and the human rights of Indigenous peoples.

The Social Justice and Native Title Report 2016 is the seventh and final report covering the term of the previous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda.

Commissioner Gooda resigned in August 2016 to join the Royal Commission into the Child Protection and Youth Detention Systems of the Northern Territory.

Text Box 1.2: Call for Action by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations[i]
  Commit to resource Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led solutions, by:

Restoring, over the forward estimates, the $534 million cut from the Indigenous Affairs portfolio in the 2014 Budget to invest in priority areas outlined in this statement; and

Reforming the Indigenous Advancement Strategy and other Federal funding programs with greater emphasis on service/need mapping (through better engagement) and local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations as preferred providers.

Commit to better engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through their representative national peaks, by:

Funding the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (Congress) and all relevant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations and forums; and

Convening regular high level ministerial and departmental meetings and forums with the Congress and the relevant peak organisations and forums.

Recommit to Closing the Gap in this generation, by and in partnership with COAG and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:

Setting targets and developing evidence-based, prevention and early intervention oriented national strategies which will drive activity and outcomes addressing:

  • family violence (with a focus on women and children);
  •  incarceration and access to justice;
  •  child safety and wellbeing, and the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care; and
  •  increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander access to disability services;

Secure national funding agreements between the Commonwealth and States and Territories (like the former National Partnership Agreements), which emphasise accountability to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and drive the implementation of national strategies.

Commit to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders to establish a Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs in the future, that:

  •  Is managed and run by senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public servants;
  •  Brings together the policy and service delivery components of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs and ensures a central department of expertise;
  •  Strengthens the engagement for governments and the broader public service with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the management of their own services.

Commit to addressing the unfinished business of reconciliation, by:

Addressing and implementing the recommendations of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, which includes an agreement making framework (treaty) and constitutional reform in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

[i] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations Unite, ‘The Redfern Statement’ (Group statement, 9 June 2016) 5, 15-17 <http://nationalcongress.com.au/the-redfern-statement/>.

Recommendations

Recommendation 1: The Australian Government follow up the initial meetings with Indigenous leadership with regular consultations which materially inform policy and legislation impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Recommendation 2: The Australian Government pursue the key priorities for change and recommendations outlined in the Redfern Statement, utilising the Council of Australian Governments and other processes to engage states and territories.

Recommendation 3: The Australian Government establish and promote a monitoring and reporting framework to measure government progress in relation to Indigenous child welfare.

Recommendation 4: The Australian Government, as a matter of urgency, support the development of justice targets, Justice Reinvestment initiatives and other evidence based state and territory legislative, administrative and service delivery initiatives that will contribute to substantial reductions in Indigenous incarceration rates.

Recommendation 5: The Australian Government prioritise early intervention and prevention initiatives that provide comprehensive support and protection from violence to vulnerable Indigenous populations including women, children and the elderly.

Recommendation 6: The Australian Government ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).

Recommendation 7: The Australian Government follow through on the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 by:

  • providing new, quarantined funding for each of the activities outlined in that plan; and
  • continuing to work with the National Health Leadership Forum to oversee the progress of the plan.

Recommendation 8: The Australian Government work with the Western Australian Government to ensure that the principles of free, prior and informed consent underpin the consultation with Aboriginal peoples regarding any proposed land tenure changes as a part of its Regional Services Reform policy.

Recommendation 9: The Australian Government support the outcomes of the national consultations conducted by the Referendum Council.

Recommendation 10: The Australian Government include the United Nations on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in the definition of human rights in the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 (Cth) and review existing legislation, policies and programmes for conformity with the UNDRIP.

Recommendation 11: The Australian Government encourage state and territory governments to consult with Indigenous peoples about the need to establish or re-establish stolen wages reparations schemes.

Recommendation 12: The Australian Government should make the Cashless Debit Card and the Community Development Program in remote communities’ voluntary, opt-in schemes (See Social Justice Native Title Report 2015, Recommendation 5).

Recommendation 13: The Australian Government conduct independent evaluations of the Cashless Debit Card Trials and Community Development Program which involve participation and feedback from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples directly affected and make these evaluations publically available.

Recommendation 14: The Australian Government work with the states, territories and relevant stakeholders including the National Native Title Tribunal, to ensure the integration of key information about the Indigenous Estate on state and territory land title information systems.

Recommendation 15: The Australian Government support Indigenous land holders to more comprehensively map the extent of their Indigenous Estate.

Recommendation 16: The Australian Government support the Indigenous Strategy Group’s endorsed model(s) for long-term leasing.

Recommendation 17: The Australian Government support the review of state and territory land use planning regimes in consultation with Indigenous organisations to ensure the Traditional Owners of the Indigenous Estate can exercise the right to free, prior and informed consent regarding land use planning decisions.

Recommendation 18: The Australian Government:

  • recognise the key roles that native title Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs), Native Title Representative Bodies and Service Providers (NTRB/SPs), the National Native Title Council and locally based, Indigenous-led specialist cultural and economic development organisations play in driving and supporting economic development on the Indigenous Estate; and
  • ensure these Indigenous-led organisations are properly funded and supported to carry out this important work, in addition to any statutory duties they may have.

Recommendation 19: The Australian Government support locally based research and scoping initiatives to identify Indigenous-led economic development opportunities suited to the unique land holdings and strengths of Traditional Owner groups, including opportunities to develop the cultural economy, partner with local operations and ‘tap in’ to industry initiatives in the broader region.

Recommendation 20: The Australian Government fund effective, applied training in business and other skills to build the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander directors and managers.

Recommendation 21: The Australian Government support the analysis of risks for both Indigenous land holders and financial institutions with the objective of developing a new risk framework to underpin decision making, investment and business practices regarding the Indigenous Estate in partnership with Indigenous people and financial institutions.

Recommendation 22: The Australian Government support legislative and policy measures to allow Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs) to freely choose the best incorporation method for their purposes and support the regulators to assist PBCs in governance and incorporation matters.

Recommendation 23: The Australian Government continue to support and resource locally designed employment programs including ranger and other culturally based land management programs beyond the current 2020 commitment.

Recommendation 24: The Australian Government support the development of tailored governance arrangements and other tools to support effective benefit sharing and wealth management strategies.

Recommendation 25: The Australian Government work with the states and territories to avoid limiting recognition of native title rights to take resources in consent determinations.

Recommendation 26: The Australian Government prioritise funding Native Title Representative Bodies and Native Title Service Providers (NTRB/SPs) to pursue native title compensation claims on behalf of their clients through litigation or agreement making.

Recommendation 27: The Australian Government continue to support and resource the Australian Human Rights Commission to facilitate the Indigenous Property Rights Project with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, government and other stakeholders, in order for the agenda developed by the Indigenous Strategy Group to be further advanced and achieved.

Recommendation 28: The Australian Government, in cooperation with representative bodies, use the UNDRIP to develop subject specific indicators and work with the Australian Human Rights Commission to monitor the implementation of UPR recommendations relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

 

NACCHO Racism and Aboriginal Health #RDA #18C : URGENT: make your submission – don’t let the Racial Discrimination Act be weakened

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Stand up for protections against race hate speech:

Make your submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Freedom of Speech

Submissions close 9 December 2016

Use the Templates under the heading “Attachments” at the bottom of this page by clicking on the relevant Attachment template to download the Word document.

Info supplied Australian Lawyers for Human Rights

ALHR has prepared templates (scroll to Attachments at the bottom of this page) to assist organisations and individuals who wish to make a submission to the current Parliamentary inquiry into freedom of speech.

The HRLC is in the process of putting together a submission for the JPCHR inquiry.

In general, the submission will include the following points:

·         Racism is a serious and escalating problem, as demonstrated by recent research, including by the Scanlon Foundation. Racism and racial vilification causes harm to individuals, to groups and society as a whole.

·         The law has an important role to play in addressing the harm caused by racial discrimination and racial vilification. By setting standards of conduct, the laws constrain the spread of racism and racial hatred and encourages people to speak out against racism, complementing broader education strategies.

·         An objective analysis of Part IIA of the RDA shows that the laws are being interpreted sensibly by the courts.
·         The laws generally strike an appropriate balance between the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom from racial discrimination and vilification.
·         There should be no change to Part IIA of the RDA.
·         The AHRC process provides important access to remedies for victims of racial vilification with most complaints resolved through an accessible mediation process.

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NACCHO has published over 50 articles in the past 4 years like

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Racism

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights

On 8 November 2016, pursuant to the section 7(c) of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011, the Attorney-General referred various matters to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights for inquiry and report which can be summarised as follows:

  • whether the operation of Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (‘RDA’) (including ss 18C and 18D) impose unreasonable restrictions on freedom of speech; and
  • whether the complaints-handling procedures of the Australian Human Rights Commission should be reformed.

ALHR does not support the terms of reference of the Joint Committee Inquiry.  Australians made their support for legislation against racial vilification very clear two years ago in response to the proposed Freedom of Speech (Repeal of s. 18C) Bill 2014 which proposed major changes to section 18C of the RDA.

Moreover, we find the terms of reference extraordinary in that they appear to oppose the proper enforcement of the RDA and thereby appear to seek to undermine the rule of law and the statutory role of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

If you would like to make your individual voice or the voice of your organisation or community heard, but feel you need some drafting assistance, please feel free to use the short form letter or longer form submission templates attached below at the bottom of this page as your starting point.   Click on an Attachment to download the relevant PDF (Terms of Reference) or Word document (templates).

The templates are designed to assist you in addressing the terms of reference and legal issues but we strongly encourage you to add your own concerns, fears and lived experiences to increase the impact of your submission (see Making a Submission).

It is now more important than ever that those who believe in the right of all people to live their lives free from intimidation, discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, make their voices heard.

If you require further assistance please contact vicepresident@alhr.org.au

The closing date for submissions is Friday, 9 December 2016.

Click here for the full terms of reference or find them attached below.

Please send your submissions to the Committee Secretariat by fax, post or email or by uploading to the Inquiry Website (see Inquiry Home Page) to arrive no later than Friday, 9 December 2016:

Committee Secretary,  Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights

PO Box 6100,  Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: 02 6277 3823

Fax: 02 6277 5767

Email: 18Cinquiry@aph.gov.au

You may also find the articles and resources below helpful:

S.18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975

At a glance: Racial vilification under sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)

Examples of other more concerning attacks on freedom of speech in Australia are contained in this Guardian article  Beyond 18C: six barriers to freedom of speech in Australia

Change Section 18C? Critics should do this crash course first

Research reveals what racism can do to a child’s body: Racism can get under the skin and do lifelong damage. BY  UNICEF Australia

DOWNLOADSTEMPLATES

Or Download from here if any technical issues

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s18c-rda-letter-template-2

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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.

Print

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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