NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Incarceration Debate #JustJustice : Download : IPA releases report on their solutions

The standard of living of Indigenous Australians fall far short of the standard that the rest of the nation enjoys, many aspects of this disadvantage are correlated, in general, with higher offending and incarceration.”

“However, these correlations also exist for non-indigenous cultural groups, and therefore it is incorrect and counter-productive to believe that the criminal justice system must treat Indigenous Australians in an exceptional way.”

The fourth major report of the IPA’s Criminal Justice program authored by IPA Research Fellow, Andrew Bushnell, was recently incorporated into a submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Inquiry into the Incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Download the IPA Report

IPA report Indigenous Australians and the criminal justice system

NACCHO Note : This article and the attached report has not been endorsed in any way by NACCHO and has been only published for research purposes only

“Australia’s prison population grew by 43 percent between 2007 and 2016, with more than one third of this growth caused by the incarceration of Indigenous Australians. Indigenous Australians make up 3 percent of the general population, but 27 percent of the prison population.”

For balance to this attached report read

NACCHO 20 + Articles Just Justice articles 

NACCHO 40 + Articles NT Royal Commission

A new report released last by the free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs: Indigenous Australians and the criminal justice system, examines the very high rate of incarceration among Indigenous Australians.

The report makes an original contribution through a renewed focus on core principles of justice and corrections, while being mindful of Indigenous disadvantage.

It finds that despite decades of special programs for Indigenous offenders, recidivism and incarceration rates have continued to climb, and calls for enhanced options for punishment and reform outside of the traditional prison system

“The standard of living of Indigenous Australians fall far short of the standard that the rest of the nation enjoys,” Mr Bushnell said. “Many aspects of this disadvantage are correlated, in general, with higher offending and incarceration.”

“However, these correlations also exist for non-indigenous cultural groups, and therefore it is incorrect and counter-productive to believe that the criminal justice system must treat Indigenous Australians in an exceptional way.”

“The high level of Indigenous offending and incarceration can and should be addressed in a manner consistent with the traditional bases of the criminal justice system: community safety, fair punishment, and personal responsibility.”

“All of the tools necessary for improving Indigenous outcomes in criminal justice are known and available,” said Mr Bushnell.

However, there are unique difficulties in finding alternatives to incarceration. Indigenous offenders are more likely than the non-Indigenous to be imprisoned for violent crimes and to have been in prison before. Moreover, Indigenous Australians are more likely to live in remote areas where the delivery by Government of alternatives to incarceration, like home detention and work and community orders, is more difficult.

But Mr Bushnell said the problems were not insurmountable.

“More should be done to fill in the spectrum of coercion that exists between release into the community and imprisonment. In particular, residential programs in larger population centres that can sustain them would make employment programs and rehabilitation services more viable.”

“It is important to improve Indigenous Australians’ ability to access our universal system of justice, including alternative punishments, rather than developing parallel systems of justice than only reinforce social division,” said Mr Bushnell.

In the report Mr Bushnell the search for solutions should not lead to setting aside traditional principles of justice. He said the criminal justice system must remain focused on defending individual rights and delivering retribution on behalf of victims and society, and the correction of offenders’ antisocial behaviour, for the long-term benefit of all Australians of all backgrounds.

“To view this issue through any other prism is to diminish the agency and dignity of Indigenous Australians and perpetuate a racial separatism that is not in the long-term interests of Australians and national solidarity.”

Australia’s prison population grew by 43 percent between 2007 and 2016, with more than one third of this growth caused by the incarceration of Indigenous Australians. Indigenous Australians make up 3 percent of the general population, but 27 percent of the prison population.

There is growing awareness that incarceration in Australia is rising at an unsustainable rate. In previous reports, the Institute of Public Affairs Criminal Justice Project has demonstrated the potential benefits of reforming punishment for nonviolent, low-risk offenders and the importance of skills training and work to the reduction of recidivism. The lessons of successful criminal justice reform in the United States and elsewhere apply with equal validity to the problem of rising Indigenous incarceration.

NACCHO welcomes comments below

NACCHO Aboriginal Children #SNAICC2017 : Download : UN Report Recommends : Reducing rates of Indigenous child incarceration and removal

 ” The United Nations has criticised Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government for the soaring rates at which Australia locks up Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

In her new report, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, said “the routine detention of young Indigenous children” was “the most distressing aspect of her visit” to Australia.

The report found that Australia locks up Indigenous children, as young as 10 years old, at 24 times the rate of non-Indigenous children.”

Download the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 

UN The Australia Report

 ” The lack of progress to improve education, health and employment standards for Indigenous people had fuelled “escalating” rates of incarceration and child removal.

The Special Rapporteur’s report said a plan of action to address high rates of Indigenous incarceration was a “national priority”.

The current claim by the Government that matters relating to incarceration remain the sole prerogative of states is untenable in the severe “

See ABC Report Part 3 Below  Australia’s progress on Closing the Gap ‘woefully inadequate’, UN says

 ” Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services have achieved remarkable success in delivering culturally appropriate services for primary health care.

However, the Special Rapporteur was informed by multiple stakeholders during her visit about inequalities in the resources available for rural and remote service delivery and of cuts to community managed primary health care, which play an essential role, for example in the prevention of chronic diseases.”

See Part 2 Below Close the Gap and ACCHO Health Services

Update September 20

CTG Press Release : Australian governments urged to act on scathing UN report

The Close the Gap Campaign urges Australian governments to act on the recommendations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Special Rapporteur, Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, said it is “woefully inadequate” that, after more than two decades of sustained economic growth, governments have failed to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The co-chairs of the Close the Gap Campaign, Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar and National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Co-Chair, Mr Rod Little, call on Federal, State and Territory governments to make Indigenous health reform a top priority at the next COAG meeting and in their 2018 Budgets

Download the CTG press Release HERE CTG Special Rep MR Final

Ms Tauli-Corpuz emphasised that PM Turnbull’s Government, not states and territories, is responsible under international law for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s “national detention crisis”.

She called for the Federal Government to adopt a National Action Plan to address the crisis.

Tammy Solonec, Indigenous Rights Manager at Amnesty International Australia, said today:

Download Report from Amnesty Amnesty Aboriginal Austrlia

“Locking up Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids in children’s prisons is a national shame. Children are being abused not only in Don Dale in the NT, but in Cleveland in Queensland, in Bimberi in the ACT, in Banksia Hill in WA. This problem is nationwide.”

“The good news is that we already know what will keep Indigenous kids out of children’s prisons and safe in their communities.”

“PM Turnbull must commit to a National Action Plan to fix the youth ‘injustice’ system. That plan must fund Indigenous-led community programs, which are the best at keeping Indigenous kids safe and thriving.”

 Other concerns and recommendations in the Special Rapporteur’s report include

  • The application of criminal responsibility as low as at the age of 10 years across the country is deeply troubling and below international standards. This situation is aggravated by the failure to apply diversion measures and community programmes and the placement of children in high-security facilities.
  • It is wholly inappropriate to detain children in punitive, rather than rehabilitative, conditions. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are essentially being punished for being poor and, in most cases, prison will only perpetuate the cycle of violence, intergenerational trauma, poverty and crime.
  • Allegations of serious abuses, including violent strip-searches, teargassing, hooding and prolonged isolation committed against Aboriginal children in custody.
  • The focus urgently needs to move away from detention and punishment towards rehabilitation and reintegration. Locking up people costs tax payers vast amounts of money. For instance, the Special Rapporteur was told that detaining a child costs between $A170,000 and $A200,000 per year.
  • The Government must ensure that community-led early intervention programmes invest in families, rather than punish them, in order to prevent children from being in contact with the child protection system.

 

Part 2 Closing the Gap strategy

  1. The “Closing the Gap” strategy has been in existence for nearly a decade. However, in its 2017 report on health, education and unemployment targets,17 the Government recognizes that only one of the seven targets — to halve the gap in Year 12 attainment rates — is on track. The Government did not expect to meet targets to close or reduce the gap in the remaining six targets, including on life expectancy, infant mortality, education and employment. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to die on average 10 years younger than other Australians, with no major improvements being recorded. In the Northern Territory, the life expectancy of Aboriginal people is the lowest in the nation and the gap between the non-indigenous population is 16 years for men and 14 years for women.
  2. It is woefully inadequate that, despite having enjoyed over two decades of economic growth, Australia has not been able to improve the social disadvantage of its indigenous population. The existing measures are clearly insufficient as evidenced by the lack of progress in achieving the “Close the Gap” targets.

Health services

  1. Social and cultural determinants explain almost one third of the health gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people. In 2015, nearly 45 per cent of indigenous peoples reported having a disability or long-term health condition. Understanding the impacts of intergenerational trauma and racism are essential factors in order to address the health situation of indigenous peoples effectively.
  2. The Government has taken steps to improve the health of indigenous peoples through the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023, and the Special Rapporteur notes as positive that the plan adopts a human rights-based approach informed by the Declaration.18
  3. In order for the Implementation Plan for the Health Plan to be successful, the Government must invest in partnerships that recognize the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The workforce of indigenous Australian medical professionals has expanded in the past decade and developed valuable expertise. However, parity is still lagging as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders still make up less than 1 per cent of the national health workforce. Support for training more indigenous health professionals is therefore required.
  4. Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services have achieved remarkable success in delivering culturally appropriate services for primary health care. However, the Special Rapporteur was informed by multiple stakeholders during her visit about inequalities in the resources available for rural and remote service delivery and of cuts to community managed primary health care, which play an essential role, for example in the prevention of chronic diseases.
  5. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders also told the Special Rapporteur about their feelings of powerlessness, loss of culture and lack of control over their lives. Suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are escalating at a shocking rate and are double that of non-Indigenous Australians. The current situation was described to the Special Rapporteur as a suicide epidemic. While visiting the Kimberley region in Western Australia, she learned about youth-developed and -driven projects to prevent suicide among Aboriginal adolescents. She strongly urges that such initiatives be supported and replicated. Adopting a holistic approach to social and emotional well-being that recognizes the need for cultural connection is essential to achieve sustainable improvement in health indicators.
  6. Aboriginal-led health research capacity has been established and should be drawn upon to inform policies. Strengthened financial and political support for Aboriginal- and Torres Strait Islander-led expertise, professional development and research is crucial in order to close the gap in relation to key health inequalities faced by indigenous peoples. In order for such measures to be sustainable, longer-term funding agreements are necessary.

Part 3 Australia’s progress on Closing the Gap ‘woefully inadequate’, UN says

The United Nations has described Australia’s lack of progress on Closing the Gap as “woefully inadequate”, saying the over-incarceration of Indigenous people is a major human rights concern

Key points:

  • The UN supported the call for a referendum to establish a First Nations advisory body in the constitution, the report said
  • It also recommended the Federal Government adopt new targets to reduce the rate of Indigenous incarceration
  • A plan of action to address high rates of incarceration was a “national priority”, it added

UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz visited Australia earlier this year, and today released her report detailing her concerns on the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Ms Tauli-Corpuz said it was unacceptable that despite two decades of economic growth, Australia had not been able to improve the social disadvantage of its Indigenous population.

She said the United Nations supported the call for a referendum to establish a First Nations advisory body in the constitution and urged the Federal Government to establish a treaties and truth-telling commission.

“Such measures would carry momentous significance to resetting the relationship with the First Peoples of Australia,” Ms Tauli-Corpuz said.

The Special Rapporteur’s report also recommended the Federal Government adopt new targets to reduce violence against women and rates of incarceration and child removal.

Ms Tauli-Corpuz said the detention of young Indigenous children was “the most distressing aspect of her visit” to Australia.

“Detention of those children has become so prevalent in certain communities that some parents referred to it as an achievement that none of their children has been taken into custody so far,” she wrote.

“The extraordinarily high rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, including women and children, is a major human rights concern.

“There have been allegations of serious abuses, including violent strip-searches, teargassing, hooding and prolonged isolation committed against Aboriginal children in custody.”

She said the lack of progress to improve education, health and employment standards for Indigenous people had fuelled “escalating” rates of incarceration and child removal.

The Special Rapporteur’s report said a plan of action to address high rates of Indigenous incarceration was a “national priority”.

“The current claim by the Government that matters relating to incarceration remain the sole prerogative of states is untenable in the severe,” she said.

Ms Tauli-Corpuz praised the Children’s Koori Court in Victoria, which brings young offenders in front of a panel of elders and aims to reduce imprisonment and recidivism.

“Such culturally sensitive processes could significantly reduce recidivism rates if extended to other jurisdictions,” she said.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and @MHPNOnline free webinar : Reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration

NACCHO Member Alert speaker update August 30

 ” Our CEO Pat Turner and NACCHO staff would like to invite all health workers to be a part of this free webinar: Reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration on people, communities and services.
 
Developed by NACCHO and produced by Mental Health Professionals’ Network (MHPN) the webinar features Q&A with a panel of experts and will explore the key issues and the impact that incarceration has on individuals, families and communities.”

Download FLYER HERE and share /promote this free webinar

No need to travel to benefit from this free PD opportunity.
Simply register and log in to participate from your home, work or anywhere you have a computer or tablet with a high speed internet connection.
 
Register now to attend this free webinar for health practitioners on
Wednesday 13 September 2017, from 4:30pm – 5:45pm AEST.
 
NACCHO also invites all Member services to ask staff to register now to access a free Mental Health Professionals’ Network webinar for their own professional development.
 
The Indigenous interdisciplinary panel will explore and discuss ways of reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration on people, communities and services.
 
This professional development opportunity is free and the previous webinar conducted by the MHPN had 680 participants across Australia.
 
The webinar features a Q&A with a panel of experts and will explore the key issues and the impact that incarceration has on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The panel will discuss strategies to enhance cultural awareness and develop responsive services for Indigenous communities affected by incarceration.

WHO’S ON THE PANEL?
 
Julie Tongs OAM : CEO Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service ACT
Dr Louis Peachy : QLD-based rural medical advisor
Dr Marshall Watson : SA-based psychiatrist
Dr Jeff Nelson : QLD-based psychologist
 
Facilitator: Dr Mary Emeleus (QLD-based general practitioner and psychotherapist).
 
Simply register and log in to participate from your home, work or anywhere you have a computer or tablet with a high speed internet connection.
Registrations close at midnight on Tuesday 12th September, 2017.
 
Please find attached a flyer about the updated webinar and it would be appreciate if you could distribute this to your local network.
 
 

Aboriginal Health and the @AusLawReform inquiry into the incarceration rate of Aboriginal peoples

 

” The Terms of Reference for this Inquiry ask the ALRC to consider laws and legal frameworks 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 people in custody.

ALRC Home page

Download this 236 page discussion paper

discussion_paper_84_compressed_no_cover

Full Terms of reference part B below

The ALRC was asked to consider a number of factors that decision makers take into account when deciding on a criminal justice response, including community safety, the availability of alternatives to incarceration, the degree of discretion available, and incarceration as a deterrent and as a punishment

The Terms of Reference also direct the ALRC to consider laws that may contribute to the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples offending and the rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Submissions close on 4 September 2017.

Make a submission

Part A Proposals and Questions

1. Structure of the Discussion Paper

1.40     The Discussion Paper is structured in parts. Following the introduction, Part 2 addresses criminal justice pathways. The ALRC has identified three key areas that influence incarceration rates: bail laws and processes, and remand; sentencing laws and legal frameworks including mandatory sentencing, short sentences and Gladue-style reports; and transition pathways from prison, parole and throughcare. These were the focus of stakeholder comments and observations in preliminary consultations.

1.41     Part 3 considers non-violent offending and alcohol regulation. It provides an overview of the detrimental effects of fine debt on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including the likelihood of imprisonment in some jurisdictions. Fine debt can be tied to driver licence offending, and the ALRC asks how best to minimise licence suspension caused by fine default. Part 3 also looks at ways laws and legal frameworks can operate to decrease alcohol supply so as to minimise alcohol-related offending in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

1.42     Part 4 discusses the incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. It contextualises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female offending within experiences of trauma, including isolation; family and sexual violence; and child removal. It outlines how proposals in other chapters may address the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and asks what more can be done.

1.43     Part 5 considers access to justice, and examines ways that state and territory governments and criminal justice systems can better engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to prevent offending and to provide better criminal justice responses when offending occurs. The ALRC places collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations at the centre of proposals made in this Part, and suggests accountability measures for state and territory government justice agencies and police. The remoteness of communities, the availability of and access to legal assistance and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interpreters are also discussed. Alternative approaches to crime prevention and criminal justice responses, such as those operating under the banner of ‘justice reinvestment’, are also canvassed.

2. Bail and the Remand Population

Proposal 2–1        The Bail Act 1977 (Vic) has a standalone provision that requires bail authorities to consider any ‘issues that arise due to the person’s Aboriginality’, including cultural background, ties to family and place, and cultural obligations. This consideration is in addition to any other requirements of the Bail Act.

Other state and territory bail legislation should adopt similar provisions.

As with all other bail considerations, the requirement to consider issues that arise due to the person’s Aboriginality would not supersede considerations of community safety.

Proposal 2–2        State and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to identify service gaps and develop the infrastructure required to provide culturally appropriate bail support and diversion options where needed.

3. Sentencing and Aboriginality

Question 3–1        Noting the decision in Bugmy v The Queen [2013] HCA 38, should state and territory governments legislate to expressly require courts to consider the unique systemic and background factors affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples when sentencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders?

If so, should this be done as a sentencing principle, a sentencing factor, or in some other way?

Question 3–2        Where not currently legislated, should state and territory governments provide for reparation or restoration as a sentencing principle? In what ways, if any, would this make the criminal justice system more responsive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders?

Question 3–3        Do courts sentencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders have sufficient information available about the offender’s background, including cultural and historical factors that relate to the offender and their community?

Question 3–4        In what ways might specialist sentencing reports assist in providing relevant information to the court that would otherwise be unlikely to be submitted?

Question 3–5        How could the preparation of these reports be facilitated? For example, who should prepare them, and how should they be funded?

4. Sentencing Options

Question 4–1        Noting the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:

(a)     should Commonwealth, state and territory governments review provisions that impose mandatory or presumptive sentences; and

(b)     which provisions should be prioritised for review?

Question 4–2        Should short sentences of imprisonment be abolished as a sentencing option? Are there any unintended consequences that could result?

Question 4–3        If short sentences of imprisonment were to be abolished, what should be the threshold (eg, three months; six months)?

Question 4–4        Should there be any pre-conditions for such amendments, for example: that non-custodial alternatives to prison be uniformly available throughout states and territories, including in regional and remote areas?

Proposal 4–1        State and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to ensure that community-based sentences are more readily available, particularly in regional and remote areas.

Question 4–5        Beyond increasing availability of existing community-based sentencing options, is legislative reform required to allow judicial officers greater flexibility to tailor sentences?

5. Prison Programs, Parole and Unsupervised Release

Proposal 5–1        Prison programs should be developed and made available to accused people held on remand and people serving short sentences.

Question 5–1        What are the best practice elements of programs that could respond to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples held on remand or serving short sentences of imprisonment?

Proposal 5–2        There are few prison programs for female prisoners and these may not address the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners. State and territory corrective services should develop culturally appropriate programs that are readily available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners.

Question 5–2        What are the best practice elements of programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners to address offending behaviour?

Proposal 5–3        A statutory regime of automatic court ordered parole should apply in all states and territories.

Question 5–3        A statutory regime of automatic court ordered parole applies in NSW, Queensland and SA. What are the best practice elements of such schemes?

Proposal 5–4        Parole revocation schemes should be amended to abolish requirements for the time spent on parole to be served again in prison if parole is revoked.

6. Fines and Driver Licences

Proposal 6–1        Fine default should not result in the imprisonment of the defaulter. State and territory governments should abolish provisions in fine enforcement statutes that provide for imprisonment in lieu of unpaid fines.

Question 6–1        Should lower level penalties be introduced, such as suspended infringement notices or written cautions?

Question 6–2        Should monetary penalties received under infringement notices be reduced or limited to a certain amount? If so, how?

Question 6–3        Should the number of infringement notices able to be issued in one transaction be limited?

Question 6–4        Should offensive language remain a criminal offence? If so, in what circumstances?

Question 6–5        Should offensive language provisions be removed from criminal infringement notice schemes, meaning that they must instead be dealt with by the court?

Question 6–6        Should state and territory governments provide alternative penalties to court ordered fines? This could include, for example, suspended fines, day fines, and/or work and development orders.

Proposal 6–2        Work and Development Orders were introduced in NSW in 2009. They enable a person who cannot pay fines due to hardship, illness, addiction, or homelessness to discharge their debt through:

  • work;
  • program attendance;
  • medical treatment;
  • counselling; or
  • education, including driving lessons.

State and territory governments should introduce work and development orders based on this model.

Question 6–7        Should fine default statutory regimes be amended to remove the enforcement measure of driver licence suspension?

Question 6–8        What mechanisms could be introduced to enable people reliant upon driver licences to be protected from suspension caused by fine default? For example, should:

(a)     recovery agencies be given discretion to skip the licence suspension step where the person in default is vulnerable, as in NSW; or

(b)     courts be given discretion regarding the disqualification, and disqualification period, of driver licences where a person was initially suspended due to fine default?

Question 6–9        Is there a need for regional driver permit schemes? If so, how should they operate?

Question 6–10      How could the delivery of driver licence programs to regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities be improved?

7. Justice Procedure Offences—Breach of Community-based Sentences

Proposal 7–1        To reduce breaches of community-based sentences by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, state and territory governments should engage with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to identify gaps and build the infrastructure required for culturally appropriate community-based sentencing options and support services.

8. Alcohol

Question 8–1        Noting the link between alcohol abuse and offending, how might state and territory governments facilitate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, that wish to do so, to:

(a)     develop and implement local liquor accords with liquor retailers and other stakeholders that specifically seek to minimise harm to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, for example through such things as minimum pricing, trading hours and range restriction;

(b)     develop plans to prevent the sale of full strength alcohol within their communities, such as the plan implemented within the Fitzroy Crossing community?

Question 8–2        In what ways do banned drinkers registers or alcohol mandatory treatment programs affect alcohol-related offending within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities? What negative impacts, if any, flow from such programs?

9. Female Offenders

Question 9–1        What reforms to laws and legal frameworks are required to strengthen diversionary options and improve criminal justice processes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female defendants and offenders?

10. Aboriginal Justice Agreements

Proposal 10–1       Where not currently operating, state and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to renew or develop Aboriginal Justice Agreements.

Question 10–1      Should the Commonwealth Government develop justice targets as part of the review of the Closing the Gap policy? If so, what should these targets encompass?

11. Access to Justice Issues

Proposal 11–1       Where needed, state and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to establish interpreter services within the criminal justice system.

Question 11–1      What reforms to laws and legal frameworks are required to strengthen diversionary options and specialist sentencing courts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Proposal 11–2       Where not already in place, state and territory governments should provide for limiting terms through special hearing processes in place of indefinite detention when a person is found unfit to stand trial.

Question 11–2      In what ways can availability and access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services be increased?

Proposal 11–3       State and territory governments should introduce a statutory custody notification service that places a duty on police to contact the Aboriginal Legal Service, or equivalent service, immediately on detaining an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person.

12. Police Accountability

Question 12–1      How can police work better with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to reduce family violence?

Question 12–2      How can police officers entering into a particular Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community gain a full understanding of, and be better equipped to respond to, the needs of that community?

Question 12–3      Is there value in police publicly reporting annually on their engagement strategies, programs and outcomes with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that are designed to prevent offending behaviours?

Question 12–4      Should police that are undertaking programs aimed at reducing offending behaviours in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities be required to: document programs; undertake systems and outcomes evaluations; and put succession planning in place to ensure continuity of the programs?

Question 12–5      Should police be encouraged to enter into Reconciliation Action Plans with Reconciliation Australia, where they have not already done so?

Question 12–6      Should police be required to resource and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment strategies, where not already in place?

13. Justice Reinvestment

Question 13–1      What laws or legal frameworks, if any, are required to facilitate justice reinvestment initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Part B The Term of reference

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

I, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General of Australia, refer to the Australian Law Reform Commission, an inquiry into the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our prisons.

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.

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.
  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.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Driving licences: Why they are key to many Aboriginal health, justice and job issues

 ” More than 70 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote locations have no public transport, and more than one in 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults report not being able to or having difficulty getting to where they need to be.

Not only would this lack of access be frustrating but it also impacts on health and social inclusion or lack thereof.”

ArticleAddressing the barriers to driver licensing for Aboriginal people in New South Wales and South Australia by Kathleen Clapham, Kate Hunter, Patricia Cullen.

In the Northern Territory, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 84 per cent of the prison population and programs such as these can help reduce incidences of gaol time by preventing people from driving without a licence.

“You get picked up a few times, and very quickly that’s a very serious offence. It’s a really important thing that needs to be addressed.”

While it’s difficult to measure the direct correlation between driver’s licence access and incarceration rates, it’s certainly something that’s likely to have a big impact.”

A key driver behind the program’s success is community participation. “It’s got to be delivered in a way the community wants. The program seems to be very flexible and culturally responsive. The team go out and engage very well with the community, And that does make a big difference that they’ve got the support of the community.”

Lead researcher Professor Rebecca Ivers believes equipping a person with something as simple as a driver’s licence can help address social inequality

Drivers’ licences a road to opportunity for remote Indigenous communities Picture above of Learners                                

 ” One of the stories within this first book talked about the high percentage of clients in the Broome Regional Prison who were there due to a driver-related offence including driving under the influence, driving unlicensed or driving under a ban.”

Article below by  Dr Melissa Stoneham from the Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia

First Published in Croakey SUBCRIBE HERE

In November 2011, the Public Health Advocacy Institute of WA (PHAIWA) released our first West Australian Indigenous Storybook, which was the start of a journey to showcase the many positive stories that occur in Aboriginal communities.

One of the stories within this first book talked about the high percentage of clients in the Broome Regional Prison who were there due to a driver-related offence including driving under the influence, driving unlicensed or driving under a ban.

One of the issues associated with this was that, upon release, many offenders did not have a means of transport. The purpose of the story was to talk about the ‘Life Cycle’ project that targeted pre-release offenders and provided them with skills on how to recondition an abandoned bicycle. The idea included presenting each prisoner, once released, with a bike to ensure they had access to much needed transport.

Now, not all community roads are suitable for bicycles and sometimes the wet season makes it almost impossible to ride a bike, but the general principle is a good one.

Having access to transport, whether this be a private vehicle, a bike or public transport is something many of us take for granted. But for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in some parts of Australia, accessing public transport and getting and retaining a driver’s licence can be a major challenge.

In this month’s JournalWatch, I am reviewing an article which was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health called “Addressing the barriers to driver licensing for Aboriginal people in New South Wales and South Australia.”

Led by Kathleen Clapham from the Australian Health Services Research Institute at the University of Wollongong, the article used qualitative data collected over a four-month period in 2013 from interviews with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal stakeholders (n=31) and 11 focus groups with Aboriginal participants (n=46).

The research reported on how barriers to obtaining a driver licence were being addressed in four urban and regional Aboriginal communities: Redfern and Griffith in New South Wales, and Ceduna and Port Lincoln in South Australia.

The stakeholders were classified into a range of agencies including licensing specific agencies, job service agencies, employment agencies, community development agencies, community brokerage agencies, justice systems – police and courts, and state government licensing authorities.

The purpose of these interviews was to ascertain what programs were operating in each site to identify strengths and gaps in programs, funding and responsiveness to community need. All data were coded by themes and allowed for comparison between community member and stakeholder perspectives.

Another reason this research is important is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are over-represented in transport-related morbidity and mortality, and have a transport injury mortality rate almost three times higher than the non-Aboriginal population.

More than 70 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote locations have no public transport, and more than one in 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults report not being able to or having difficulty getting to where they need to be.

Not only would this lack of access be frustrating but it also impacts on health and social inclusion or lack thereof. Separate to this study, a researcher in the Pilbara region of Western Australia identified how access to culture is impacted by being unable to access transport, including the need to travel for lore business, funerals, hunting and to visit family. Transport is essential for employment, schooling, accessing food, health, cultural and other services and is often a means of escape.

This is particularly so in more remote areas. Let’s take one example. If you lived in the small and remote community of Warakurna, you would need to drive 331 kilometres on unsealed roads to get to Yulara (Uluru) or 781 kilometres to reach Alice Springs.

That is a long way to get to a licensing centre, a hospital or to do a decent shop. In our vast nation, a larger proportion of Indigenous people than others live in the more remote areas of Australia and research indicates that Indigenous people have higher injury rates the more remotely they live.

Barriers to gaining a licence

So what does prevent Aboriginal people from gaining a driving licence and how does not having a driver licence affect the Aboriginal community?

A range of structural issues are involved. These include a lack of sufficient identification such as a birth certificate to prove identity. Lower literacy and the fact that English is often not a first language is a further constricting factor.  The protracted, bureaucratic licensing process, the introduction of graduated licensing and the need to access technology which is not available to all Indigenous people are additional barriers.

The cost of obtaining a licence was also seen as a barrier with one community member stating that “I have a job but because I don’t really get that much so $67 is a lot for me.”

Some of the impacts of under-licensing for Aboriginal people include unsafe transport choices such as overcrowding of vehicles, riding in utility trays and driving unlicensed.

Intersections with the justice system were also raised in the research, with having a state debt due to non-payment of fines frequently cited as a reason for why Aboriginal people were unable to obtain or had lost a licence.

Options to address licensing issues

The authors were able to identify some future options to address the barriers to driver licensing, particularly through the stakeholder data.

All stakeholders were able to cite numerous examples of successful licensing support and driver education courses targeting Aboriginal people, but many of these services had been closed due to lack of funding.

The re-initiation of these types of culturally sensitive courses was seen as a priority action, as was the establishment of government licensing services in remote communities. Some legal stakeholders suggested that providing driver training while people are in custody for disqualification is a potential solution as people in custody have limited access to alcohol and other drugs.

The research found the most frequent suggestions from stakeholders about how to address local Aboriginal licensing issues were:

  • job service networks playing a more active role
  • better use of work and development orders
  • inclusion of driver training in high school education
  • funding licensing programs and community educations courses that included basic literacy skills
  • better provision of services in regional and remote areas
  • legal solutions, such as court diversionary programs.

A quick scan of existing driver licence initiatives for Aboriginal people identified a couple of options including the New South Wales Government offering 1,000 free places on the Safer Drivers Course each year to help young learner drivers from disadvantaged backgrounds and Aboriginal communities. The course helps young drivers on their L-plates prepare for driving solo when they graduate to provisional licences, and teaches them how to reduce road risks and develop safe driving behaviour.

In the Ngarliyarndu Bindirri Aboriginal Corporation (NBAC) located in Roebourne, the Red Dirt Driving Academy employs local mentors to teach local people how to drive safely and retain their licences, with support from Elders. Since 2011 the Academy has been overwhelmed by demand, and has recently welcomed the nearby regional prison authority into the program. The town also has a new road safety mural (featured, right).

Whatever the answer, it is pretty clear we need greater investment in end-to-end licensing support programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, allowing them to more readily gain and retain their driver licence in their local communities and, where possible, with local mentors.

The broad array of structural and community barriers have been identified in articles such as the one reviewed here, and it is now time to use research findings such as these to make it easier and safer for Aboriginal people to get their drivers license.

ArticleAddressing the barriers to driver licensing for Aboriginal people in New South Wales and South Australia by Kathleen Clapham, Kate Hunter, Patricia Cullen., et al. ANZJPH; 41 (3):280-286.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Hearing Health : 94 per cent of Indigenous inmates in the NT have significant hearing loss

 

” Eighty four per cent of adults and 96 per cent of juveniles detained in the Northern Territory are Indigenous, though they only make up 25 per cent of the population.

In my research I found that hearing-impaired Aboriginal people are more likely to be arrested and charged with crimes because they cannot explain themselves to police or give adequate instructions to their solicitor, are less likely to be viewed as a credible witnesses in court, and tend to have misunderstandings with corrections staff.”

Psychologist Dr Damien Howard ( see his PowerPoint presentation below ) 

 

 ” Ministers agreed that the ear and hearing health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is an important issue that impacts on their health, education, and employment outcomes.

Accordingly, Ministers agreed to explore the feasibility of a national approach to reducing the burden of middle ear disease and associated hearing loss on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This is an important step towards achieving Closing the Gap targets. “

COAG Health Council Communique  24 March 2017

Read over 30 previous NACCHO articles Ears and Hearing

When Aboriginal prisoners appear before a magistrate waiting to be sentenced in Darwin, a guard is usually sitting in the dock right beside them. Troy Vanderpoll used to be one of those prison officers.

Article originally published

The Aboriginal inmate is asked a few questions. He nods in agreement with the magistrate, repeating, “yes”, over and over again.

The session finishes, the inmate stands, and the court moves on to the next case.

The man turns to the guard: “How much did I get?”

Mr Vanderpoll is Indigenous himself, and used to work as the Aboriginal Liaison Officer in Northern Territory prisons.

He spent a lot of time with Aboriginal inmates, and noticed that some of the men seemed withdrawn, and did their best to avoid interacting with guards, parole officers and judges — even when it was in their best interests.

Hidden epidemic

In 2010, Mr Vanderpoll spoke to a local psychologist, Damien Howard, who had a theory on why that was — a hidden epidemic of hearing loss.

Damien had studied the impact of hearing loss on Indigenous people for more than two decades, but had never seen research published on hearing levels of adult prisoners in the Northern Territory.

Before Mr Vanderpoll became a prison guard, he was a medic in the Australian Army, where he learned how to conduct hearing testing. In the defence forces, biannual checks are mandatory.

In response to Mr Vanderpoll and Dr Howard’s interest, Robert Miller — then acting superintendent of Darwin Correctional Centre and Mr Vanderpoll’s stepfather — commissioned the pair to conduct hearing testing for Aboriginal inmates.

Mr Vanderpoll tested the hearing of volunteers at correctional centres in Darwin and Alice Springs, and Dr Howard helped compile the results.

The findings made news headlines: 94 per cent of the inmates tested had significant hearing loss.

The result reflected a wider public health issue: in remote communities, up to 45 per cent of Aboriginal people have hearing loss, often due to preventable childhood ear diseases.

Presentation  : Health practitioners improving communication with Indigenous patients and family members with hearing loss.

Mr Miller had by then worked in Corrections for over 25 years. The result was a revelation.

“I think it shocked all of us that the hearing loss was so great,” he says.

“The doors open and the memory goes back: some prisoners seemed to be not talking to you, ignoring what you’re saying. You understand now that he’s got a hearing problem, no wonder he couldn’t hear what I was saying.

“If you don’t know about it then you may just think that the prisoner is being ignorant or rude in not responding to something that you’ve said.”

Then there were the inmates who Mr Vanderpoll realised must have been deaf in one ear.

“Sometimes you’re talking to someone and they completely ignore you because they’re facing the wrong way,” he says.

 

Photo: 94 per cent of Indigenous inmates in the Northern Territory have significant hearing loss. (ABC RN: Jake Duczynski)

Aboriginal men in NT prisons regularly use hand gestures — but Mr Vanderpoll and Dr Howard say that was no clear indication of hearing loss. Aboriginal spoken languages in the Northern Territory include signing, and many inmates speak English as a second or third language.

“The boys are always signing. Always, whether they can hear or not, they’re still signing,” Mr Miller says.

If Mr Vanderpoll and Dr Howard were shocked by the results, so too were the inmates. Most prisoners had no idea they had hearing problems before the study.

“They’d grown up with it. That had been their whole life,” Mr Vanderpoll says.

But whether they know they have it or not, hearing loss impacted their experiences in the justice system.

Mr Vanderpoll began having conversations with prisoners who admitted avoiding interacting with the parole board because of their hearing loss, giving up a chance for a reduced sentence.

“Anything that put them in a position where they had to talk to a stranger or be reviewed by a stranger was so shocking or so scary to them, that they’d rather stay in prison and complete their full time without any chance of parole,” he says.

“If you’ve got hearing issues, you don’t want to be put into that position.”

Interpreter shortage

While most hearing impaired and deaf Aboriginal inmates Mr Vanderpoll worked with didn’t ask for an interpreter in legal situations, the service might not have been available for them anyway.

There is only one professionally-qualified Auslan interpreter available for inmates across the entire Northern Territory, meaning that many deaf people miss out.

The interpreter, Liz Temple, readily admits that she does not have fluency in the local Aboriginal sign languages that most prisoners with hearing loss use.

She often relies on Aboriginal consultants, such as Jody Barney, a deaf Indigenous woman who often works in the region and has knowledge of multiple Aboriginal sign languages. However, funding for such services is limited.

Instead, corrections officers often play quasi-interpreters for inmates, says Mr Vanderpoll.

“You’d listen to the magistrate and you’d just lean over to the prisoner and just tell him what’s happening as it’s happening in real time. I think the reason that works is because they’re more comfortable.”

Their findings led Robert Miller to wonder whether hearing loss plays a role not only in Aboriginal people’s experience of prison, but also contributes to them ending up there in the first place.

“You can understand why Indigenous incarceration is so high. I’m not saying it’s the only reason, but I think it had quite an impact,” he says.

Eighty four per cent of adults and 96 per cent of juveniles detained in the Northern Territory are Indigenous, though they only make up 25 per cent of the population.

In his research, Howard found that hearing-impaired Aboriginal people are more likely to be arrested and charged with crimes because they cannot explain themselves to police or give adequate instructions to their solicitor, are less likely to be viewed as a credible witnesses in court, and tend to have misunderstandings with corrections staff.

Signs of change

Once the report was released, Mr Vanderpoll and Dr Howard were hopeful things would begin to change.

Mr Miller cobbled together funding for eight hearing aids, as he recalls — at a cost of less than $2,000.

“It wasn’t huge, but when you’re spending government money it’s got to be justified,” he says.

He had hoped that the small pilot program would eventually be funded by the government.

“There was no money in the Darwin Correctional Centre budget for hearing assistance,” he says.

Before the Darwin trial, in his eight years in NT prisons, Mr Vanderpoll says he saw only two people wearing hearing aids.

He recalls watching inmates putting on the new devices, realising what they had been missing.

“They could understand what they were supposed to be hearing in the first place,” he says.

Mr Vanderpoll hoped to implement a comprehensive training program for guards, who he says often had good relationships with inmates.

“I don’t think you can highlight that enough, that when they’re in prison, the officers aren’t their enemies.”

Still, there were correctional officers who got it, and those who didn’t, the ones who are “coming in yelling and screaming”.

The officers with the best rapport with the prisoners, Mr Vanderpoll observed, were those who made an effort to communicate.

“There’s a lot of knowledge. Some have 30 years of dealing with Indigenous inmates and they have developed a really good set of listening skills and speaking skills. We were trying to map that out so we could disseminate that in some form of training.”

Hope and disappointment

Their 2011 report made a number of recommendations that they believed could improve the way the justice system caters for hearing-impaired Aboriginal people — including routine testing of new inmates’ hearing, better access to hearing aids, and improved training for police, the judiciary and correctional staff.

Mr Vanderpoll’s biggest hope was to see records of inmates’ hearing levels shared between police and the courts.

“So that when [police] deal with someone, they bring that person up and say, ‘All right, he’s deaf in the left ear,’ and they can be aware of that when they’re dealing with them,” he says.

Mr Vanderpoll left the NT Department of Correctional Services in 2013, and now works for the state’s Department of Trade, Business and Innovation, while Mr Miller has retired.

To Dr Howard’s knowledge, none of the 2011 report’s recommendations have been implemented.

The NT Department of Corrections never contacted him about the report.

The Department of the Attorney General and Justice said that as part of an initial training program, correctional officers learned to deal with prisoners with impairments, including hearing loss.

Mr Vanderpoll’s idea of record sharing went nowhere. “That’s the most disappointing part,” he says.

Hearing loss remains ‘the smoking gun’

In the aftermath of the abuse of Aboriginal teenagers by guards at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in 2016, Dr Howard told the royal commission that hearing loss amongst Aboriginal adults and young people continues to be the “smoking gun” contributing to very high rates of detention — and communication problems with police and guards.

“With rare exceptions, governments and corrections agencies in all jurisdictions, as well as the criminal justice research organisations, have displayed a perplexing disinterest in this important issue,” Dr Howard says.

“A common response of government and Corrections is to classify Aboriginal hearing loss only as a “health problem”.

When asked if audiological testing was now conducted for adult prisoners entering the correctional system, the NT Department of the Attorney General and Justice referred the ABC to the Department of Health.

The Department of Health says adult prisoners are asked if they have hearing issues when they enter prison. Yet as Mr Vanderpoll and Dr Howard’s research found, many inmates are unaware of their hearing loss.

The NT Department of Corrections provides prisoners with a hearing aid if they have a referral from a medical practitioner.

Juvenile detainees in Darwin and Alice Springs are now given a hearing screening test undertaken by a nurse. The service began this year.

Mr Miller says people in the Department of Corrections “try really hard” to deliver services under increasingly strained resources.

“The government’s on you every year to be tight … people are not interested in prisoners at all,” Mr Vanderpoll says.

“I think that a lot of the problems that we face today, like Don Dale, was because the money’s been stripped from Corrections, over and over again, and people don’t want to hear about it.

“The prison is always run well because of communication. When it doesn’t run well, when there’s riots and stuff like that, it’s because of a lack of communication.

“You can have all of the foundation skills-type training in the world. You can have mathematics, English, et cetera. You can send people to alcohol rehabilitation courses.

“You can do all these things with people, but if they can’t even hear what you’re saying, how is it going to make a difference?”

Ear trouble training for teachers

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #1967referendum #JustJustice : Indigenous prison overrepresentation costs Australia $7.9bn a year,

 

 ” Closing the gap on Indigenous incarceration could save almost $19bn in 2040

Indigenous incarceration is costing nearly $8 billion annually and will grow to almost ; $20 billion per annum by 2040 without further intervention, according to a PwC Australia and PwC’s Indigenous Consulting (PIC) report released today.

The report also highlights the social costs of incarceration and points to the economic and social benefits of Indigenous-led, evidence-based approaches in addressing the issue.

In 2016 justice system costs related to Indigenous incarceration were $3.9 billion, and are forecast to grow to $10.3 billion annually by 2040. Welfare costs associated with the issue will rise to $110 million by 2040, while economic costs will reach over $9 billion annually.”

Download the full report here : Indigenous incarceration

” As a young boy, I listened to the talk around our dinner table, sensing the big change in the air. On TV, influential people had publicly championed the Yes vote. It was 50 years ago, when Australians came together and stood up for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the 1967 referendum.

The vote enabled the Federal Government to legislate for and take greater responsibility for protecting the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It also gave it the authority to count us in the census.

Fifty years later, we’ve been continuously let down. In so many ways, today the injustice gap is widening — and our kids are feeling it the most.

From Darwin to Sydney and Perth to Townsville, today too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids are being detained, rather than getting the support they need.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities know that our kids shouldn’t be behind bars; they should be with their families and communities.

We know how to keep kids strong, healthy and give them real opportunities for a brighter future.”

Rodney Dillon Palawa Elder. Indigenous Rights Advisor for Amnesty International Australia  see full story part 2 below

  Read previous NACCHO #JustJustice                            

NT Royal Commission Don Dale  articles

 ” The overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the justice system costs Australia $7.9bn a year and those costs are projected to increase to $19.8bn by 2040, according to economic modelling.

Reducing the rate of Indigenous imprisonment to be on par with non-Indigenous imprisonment would save $18.9bn by 2040, modelling produced by PriceWaterhouseCoopers showed, as well as reducing unquantified costs caused by policies that perpetuate the cycle of disadvantage.”

The modelling, released on Thursday, is part of a report produced by PwC Indigenous Consulting, in partnership with the Change the Record Coalition, the Richmond Football Institute and the Korin Gamadji Institute.

Download the Press Release : Closing the Gap Indigenous Incarceration

Report from  in the Guardian

Those unqualified costs included intergenerational trauma and continued high rates of child removal.

“The numbers are so huge that it amounts to a substantial budget repair measure,” PwC economics and policy partner James van Smeerdijk said.

The modelling, released on Thursday, is part of a report produced by PwC Indigenous Consulting, in partnership with the Change the Record Coalition, the Richmond Football Institute and the Korin Gamadji Institute.

It recommended national justice targets and greater investment in both diversionary and post-release programs as a way to reduce rates of imprisonment and deliver economic as well as social savings.

“The social impact of a reduction in imprisonment rates would be significant, changing lives and transforming communities,” the Change the Record coalition co-chair, Shane Duffy, said. “However this important collaborative report plays a key role in also highlighting the significant economic impact and potential savings for governments and in turn the taxpayer.”

In 2015-2016, Indigenous Australians made up 3% of the Australian population, 27% of the prison population and 51% of the juvenile detention population, a situation the report said was “unfair, unsafe and unaffordable”.

The Indigenous prison population has doubled in the 26 years since the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody.

The cost of Indigenous incarceration in 2015-16 included $3.9bn spent on justice services, $62.5m spent on welfare such as out-of-home care for children whose parents were incarcerated, and $16.2m in foregone taxation, the report said.

It included a further $4.5m in broader costs such as the cost of crime, the loss of productive output and excess tax burden.

Projected future costs assumed Indigenous imprisonment would increase at a rate of 3%, assuming nothing was done to reduce current rates of overrepresentation, and an Indigenous population that was growing at 2.2% per annum. It did not contemplate the possibility of the rates of either new admission to prison or recidivism going up.

Van Smeerdijk said the conservative estimate made the figures even more persuasive. If there is not a systemic change in the justice system, the actual costs are likely to be much worse.

“I think if the average Australian actually realised some of these facts, realised how unfair, unsafe and unaffordable it was, that would be the start of changing peoples opinions,” he said.

Brendon Gale, chief executive of the Richmond Football Club, said the “unavoidable conclusion is that a different approach needs to be taken”.

“The good news is that, with combined action and effort, we can effect positive change in the domain of Indigenous incarceration,” he said.

Van Smeerdijk said he hoped the report would inform the findings of the Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry into Indigenous incarceration, which is due to release its preliminary report in June, and the final report of the Northern Territory royal commission into the protection and detention of children.

Article 2 : The Injustice Gap Is Widening, And Our Kids Are Feeling It Most

As a young boy, I listened to the talk around our dinner table, sensing the big change in the air. On TV, influential people had publicly championed the Yes vote. It was 50 years ago, when Australians came together and stood up for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the 1967 referendum.

The vote enabled the Federal Government to legislate for and take greater responsibility for protecting the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It also gave it the authority to count us in the census.

I remember Mum and my aunties cooking on our combustion stove, saying that this referendum would be the turning point for our people. They thought they would see structural change for the country.

I was only a primary school kid, and I often copped racism on the school bus. With my child’s understanding of the issue, I wondered: will all this change — will people will be nice to us now?

It is time for Prime Minister Turnbull to fulfil the legacy of the 90 percent of Australians who voted for the Federal Government to take responsibility for justice for Indigenous people, and to fix the damage caused by colonisation.

Until then, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had seen the Federal Government pass the buck to the States and Territories, the States and Territories pass it back to the Federal Government, but none of them ever thought it was important to protect our people’s rights.

When over 90 percent of Australians turned out to say there needs to be change, the Federal Government knew it had to listen. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people felt supported by the goodwill of the people, and we were full of hope.

We hoped there would no longer be a piecemeal approach to Indigenous issues. We hoped the protection of our people’s rights would no longer depend on what State or Territory someone happened to live in. We hoped the Federal Government would consistently protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights across the country.

Fifty years later, we’ve been continuously let down. In so many ways, today the injustice gap is widening — and our kids are feeling it the most.

From Darwin to Sydney and Perth to Townsville, today too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids are being detained, rather than getting the support they need. In detention across the country, Governments are hooding and strapping Indigenous kids to chairs, teargassing them, locking them in the dark for 23 hours a day, and brutalising them.

It’s child abuse, and Indigenous kids are more likely to be affected across the country because our kids make up less than six percent of young people, but over half of kids in detention.

When my parents — and many of your parents — voted in the referendum, this was not the Australia they wanted. Our kids are enduring this today because successive Australian Governments have never taken on the real spirit of the referendum.

It is time for Prime Minister Turnbull to fulfil the legacy of the 90 percent of Australians who voted for the Federal Government to take responsibility for justice for Indigenous people, and to fix the damage caused by colonisation.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities know that our kids shouldn’t be behind bars; they should be with their families and communities. We know how to keep kids strong, healthy and give them real opportunities for a brighter future.

I’ve spoken with Indigenous leaders in communities from Palm Island to Albany, to Broome, to Darwin to Bourke. Everywhere, I’ve seen Indigenous-run prevention and diversion programs have great success and see less recidivism. Young people who go through these programs gain respect for their Elders, their communities and themselves.

Aboriginal people have the answers, we want to be part of the solution, and we are calling for the Federal Government to listen.

Prime Minister Turnbull needs to see that locking up Indigenous kids and abusing them in detention is a national problem that needs a national solution. He must commit to a National Action Plan on Youth Justice.

The time for this change is right now. The treatment handed out to Indigenous kids in Don Dale in the Northern Territory shocked our nation. But shock is not enough — now we have to act. The spotlight on youth justice from the Northern Territory Royal Commission and other inquiries around Australia provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure a national, long term, funded action plan.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations have been demanding this change for decades. Now we need non-Indigenous people to come along with us, as they did in 1967, to let the Federal Government know we won’t stand for its failure a minute longer.

Together, we can fulfil the legacy of 50 years ago and secure a better future for Indigenous kids.

Together, we can make history.

Aboriginal Women’s Health : Download Report : Over imprisonment of Aboriginal women is a growing national crisis

“For too long our women have been ignored by policymakers. It is time for governments at all levels to put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s experiences and voices front and centre, and listen to what we have to say about the solutions.

The report highlights the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women having access to specialist, holistic and culturally safe services and supports that address the underlying causes of imprisonment,

Experiences of family violence contribute directly and indirectly to women’s offending, If we are to see women’s offending rates drop, governments must invest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations that work with our women to stop violence.”

Antoinette Braybrook, Co Chair of the Change the Record Coalition and Convener of the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum.

New report launched to address skyrocketing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s imprisonment rates

Download the report here : Aboriginal Woman OverRepresented_online

The over imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is a growing national crisis that is being overlooked by all levels of government in Australia, the Human Rights Law Centre and Change the Record said in a new report launched today.

The imprisonment rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women has skyrocketed nearly 250 per cent since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women make up around 34 per cent of the female prison population but only 2 per cent of the adult female population.

The report, Overrepresented and overlooked: the crisis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s growing over imprisonment, calls for system wide change and outlines 18 recommendations to redress racialised and gendered justice system outcomes.

Adrianne Walters, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre said,

“The tragic and preventable death of Ms Dhu is a devastating example of what happens when the justice system fails Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Ms Dhu was locked up under draconian laws that see Aboriginal women in WA disproportionately locked up for fines they cannot pay. She was treated inhumanely by police and died in their care. At a time when she most needed help, the justice system punished her.”

Annette Vickery, Deputy CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, said, “The vast majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in custody are mothers. While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are often in custody for short periods, even a short time can cause devastating and long term upheaval – children taken into child protection, stable housing lost, employment denied.

“Governments should be doing everything they can to help women avoid prison to prevent the devastating rippling effects of women’s imprisonment on children and families,” added Ms Vickery.

The report calls for governments to move away from ‘tough on crime’ approaches in reality and rhetoric, and to focus on evidence based solutions that tackle drivers of offending and prevent women coming into contact with the justice system in the first place.

Ms Walters said, “Overzealous policing and excessive police powers, driven by tough on crime politics, see too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and men fined and locked up for minor offending. Only last month, the WA Coroner recommended the removal of police arrest and detention powers for public drinking after another Aboriginal woman died in police custody.”

“Governments can act now to remove laws that disproportionately and unfairly criminalise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, like fine default imprisonment laws in WA and paperless arrest laws in the NT,” added Ms Walters

Ms Walters said, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are also being denied bail and options to transition away from courts and prisons to more rehabilitative alternatives. Too often this is because of a lack of housing and programs designed for their social and cultural needs, particularly in regional and remote locations.’

“Rather than enacting harsher laws and barriers to women accessing rehabilitative alternatives, governments must invest in programs that are designed for and by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and that tackle the root causes of offending,” said Ms Walters.

Response from contributor to the report, Vickie Roach Vickie Roach, a former prisoner turned writer and advocate said “punitive approaches don’t work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. They punish our women, their families and communities, for actions that are often the consequence of forced child removal and assimilation policies.”

“Governments should be getting rid of laws that unfairly criminalise our women. They should be trying to close prisons and focusing on alternatives that are healing. You need to respect women’s dignity, but in my experience, so often the criminal justice system just takes it away,” added Ms Roach.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : NT Government invests in safer and healthier families / communities: cuts grog to problem drinkers

Budget 2017 is delivering on the Territory Labor Government’s election commitments, investing $33 million in our communities and tackling the causes of domestic, family and sexual violence to ensure that Territorians feel safe

“The Northern Territory has the highest rates of domestic and family violence in Australia, and that comes at an enormous social and economic cost.

Minister for Territory Families Dale Wakefield (see article 1 below )

 ” The BDR supported police in stopping alcohol related crime and antisocial behaviour and its return will make a difference. Police previously described it as one of the best tools for combating antisocial behaviour.

“We know that 60% of domestic violence incidents are alcohol related – this is simply unacceptable and cutting grog to problem drinkers will help address this blight.”

Chief Minister Michael Gunner today said returning the Banned Drinker Register (BDR) on September 1 is the number one thing the Territory Labor Government can do to tackle antisocial behaviour and crime – including the devastating rates of domestic violence.         (see article 2 below )

 ” The Territory Labor Government says the new Banned Drinkers Register will help ease pressures on frontline health workers by reducing the supply of alcohol to those who cause so much harm.

We’ve listened to concerns from medical professionals and community that critical resources are being diverted to deal with alcohol related harm and violence.

While every Territorian is entitled to have a drink and enjoy that responsibly, we know too many people are drinking at dangerous levels, harming themselves, their families and their communities.”

The Minister for Health Natasha Fyles ( See Article 3 below )

Article 1

More than $33 million will be invested in frontline services, infrastructure and strategies to support the prevention of domestic and family violence that will help keep Territorians safe.

Minister for Territory Families Dale Wakefield said Budget 2017 acknowledges the cost and serious impact that domestic and family violence has on our society, and today’s announcement will improve services and facilities for Territorians.

“Budget 2017 is delivering on the Territory Labor Government’s election commitments, investing in our communities and tackling the causes of domestic, family and sexual violence to ensure that Territorians feel safe,” Ms Wakefield said.

“The Northern Territory has the highest rates of domestic and family violence in Australia, and that comes at an enormous social and economic cost.

“This budget will address both infrastructure and policy issues to ensure we have the necessary foundations to firstly reduce the rates of domestic and family violence, but also to provide victims essential support.”

This includes:

  • $6.2 million to continue current domestic violence services in the Territory, left unfunded by the CLP government
  • $3 million to refurbish Alice Springs Domestic Violence Court to improve the safety, experience and outcomes for people affected by domestic and family violence
  • $6 million for the replacement of the Alice Springs Women’s Shelter, so that women can establish independence and recover from trauma
  • $1 million to establish a remote women’s safe house in Galiwinku.

The Territory Labor Government is restoring trust in Government, creating jobs, investing in children and building safer, fairer and stronger communities – right across the Territory.

The Minister also reaffirmed additional investments being made right now into domestic and family violence programs that allow for community led solutions, including:

  • $700,000 over two years to expand the “NO MORE” violence prevention campaign
  • $350,000 to Charles Darwin University and Menzies School of Research to review key domestic and family violence reduction programs in the NT, particularly their impact and effectiveness in remote communities
  • $150,000 to NTCOSS to build the capacity of the domestic and family violence sector
  • $80,000 to improving services provided by the Gove Crisis Accommodation service
  • $30,000 to NPY Women’s Council towards a sexual violence research project.

Minister Wakefield said Budget 2017 is investing in the Territory’s future through jobs, children and community.

“We are going through a challenging economic period – everyone knows this and we have been very upfront about it,” Ms Wakefield said.

“This budget will create and support jobs, deliver on our election commitments and be a fair plan for our future

Article 2 : A BETTER BDR TACKLING SECONDARY SUPPLY AND CUTTING RED TAPE

Chief Minister Michael Gunner today said returning the Banned Drinker Register (BDR) on September 1 is the number one thing the Territory Labor Government can do to tackle antisocial behaviour and crime – including the devastating rates of domestic violence.

Mr Gunner today announced that the new BDR would address weaknesses in the old version by better addressing the problem of secondary supply and cutting red tape.

“We have listened to Police, the community and local businesses and taken action – we will introduce tougher punishment for secondary suppliers to banned drinkers,” Mr Gunner said.

“It will now be a criminal offence to intentionally supply alcohol to a person known to be on the BDR. Once charged with this offence police have the power to place the secondary supplier on the BDR. The offence can also carry significant fines.

“Another improvement cutting red tape is that once given a Banned Drinker Order, a person will go straight onto the BDR and will not require a tribunal hearing or appearance.

“Importantly, Banned Drinker Orders issued by Police will be automatically processed through the Integrated Justice Information System to immediately place problem drinkers on the BDR. This will happen within 48 hours which will help both Police and victims in urgent domestic and family violence situations.”

Mr Gunner said the Territory Labor Government introduced the BDR in July 2011 and the chaotic CLP Government scrapped it in 2012 for political reasons.

“Territorians hated that the chaotic CLP Government scrapped the BDR and they want it returned because it worked – we have listened and taken action,” he said.

“The BDR supported police in stopping alcohol related crime and antisocial behaviour and its return will make a difference. Police previously described it as one of the best tools for combating antisocial behaviour.

“We know that 60% of domestic violence incidents are alcohol related – this is simply unacceptable and cutting grog to problem drinkers will help address this blight.”

Mr Gunner said alcohol related crime and antisocial behaviour in our city centres is an issue facing many businesses and is hindering efforts to revitalise these areas.

“We want to make our city centres a vibrant place and the BDR will combat antisocial behaviour, in turn encouraging tourists and locals back into these areas,” he said.

“Undoing the CLP’s failed replacement scheme and bringing back the BDR is a significant piece of work and new legislation will be introduced into Parliament in May we are working as fast as we can because we know this will make a difference.”

Mr Gunner said Government is taking action on the causes of crime because every Territorian has the right for them and their homes and business to be safe.

He said measures including the recent $18.2 million overhaul of the broken youth justice system (which includes 52 Youth Diversion Workers, more funding for boot camps, supporting the enforcement of bail conditions and victims conferencing), greater powers for police (including electronic monitoring bracelets), more police officers and better training for staff in youth justice facilities showed his Government was taking crime very seriously.

Article 3 FRONTLINE HEALTH WORKERS TO BENEFIT FROM BDR (NT)

The Territory Labor Government says the new Banned Drinkers Register will help ease pressures on frontline health workers by reducing the supply of alcohol to those who cause so much harm.

The Minister for Health Natasha Fyles said Territorians have the right to access the high quality services our hospitals offer.

“We’ve listened to concerns from medical professionals and community that critical resources are being diverted to deal with alcohol related harm and violence,” Ms Fyles said.

“We’re empowering Territorians by creating more pathways to the BDR.

“The new BDR unveiled this week will have new provisions allowing medical officers, families and carers to refer problem drinkers to the BDR and to the rehabilitation they need.

“While every Territorian is entitled to have a drink and enjoy that responsibly, we know too many people are drinking at dangerous levels, harming themselves, their families and their communities.

“Our paramedics and hospital staff are dealing with the highest rates of alcohol related harm and injury at rates not seen in any other jurisdiction across the country

“The Territory continues to have the highest rates of alcohol related injury and disease in the nation – the number of deaths related to alcohol in the NT is three times the national average.

“Alcohol related harm costs the Territory more than $642 million a year and that is continuing to grow.

“The BDR was scrapped by the chaotic former CLP government in 2012 – delivering a sharp spike in alcohol related harm over the two most violent years on record.

“Department records show alcohol related Emergency Department presentations peaked at over 3000 across the Territory in 2013.

“We made an election promise to Territorians that we would bring back the BDR and we are delivering on that promise

“Seventy per cent of alcohol sold in the Territory is takeaway, so we know cutting supply to problem drinkers is a key way to curb alcohol fuelled violence and crime.

From September 1 the BDR will be reinstated, with Territorians and tourists having to show ID to purchase takeaway alcohol.

Those identified as being on the BDR won’t be able to buy takeaway alcohol.

More than a thousand people will be automatically included on the BDR from day one.

That figure is expected to grow to around 2500 by Christmas.

The legislation will be introduced to parliament next month.

 

 

Aboriginal Health and #Justjustice : @UNHumanrights finds Australia’s Aboriginal peoples face “tsunami” of imprisonment.

“It is alarming that, while the country has adopted numerous policies to address the socio-economic disadvantage of Aboriginal peoples and those from the Torres Strait Islands, it has failed to respect their rights to self-determination and to full and effective participation in society.

Government policies have failed to deliver on targets in the areas of health, education and employment and have led to a growing number of people being jailed, and have resulted in an increasing number of children being removed from their homes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.  

High rates of incarceration were described to me as a tsunami affecting indigenous peoples. It is a major human rights concern.

The figures are simply astounding. While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up only 3% of the total population, they constitute 27% of the prison population, and much more in some prisons,”

United Nations human rights expert the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz pictured above meeting the Opposition Aboriginal parliamentarians and below meeting the NT APO lead by John Paterson CEO of NACCHO Affiliate AMSANT

Australia must reduce the “astounding” rates of imprisonment for indigenous peoples and step up the fight against racism, a United Nations human rights expert has concluded, at the end of an official visit.

“The rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth is alarming,” Ms. Tauli-Corpuz said. “I visited Cleveland Youth Detention Centre in Townsville, Queensland, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children constitute 95% of the children detained.

Many have been going from out-of-home care into detention. “Aboriginal children are seven times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be in contact with the child protection system or to be subject to abuse or neglect, Ms. Tauli-Corpuz noted.

“As already recommended by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, I urge Australia to increase the age of criminal responsibility. Children should be detained only as a last resort.

“These children are essentially being punished for being poor and in most cases, prison will only aggravate the cycle of violence, poverty and crime. I found meeting young children, some only 12 years old, in detention the most disturbing element of my visit.

The UN expert expressed criticism of the Government programme known as the Indigenous Advancement Strategy which was initiated by the Government in 2014 and involved a large budget cut in funding for support programmes.

She said: “The implementation of the strategy has been bureaucratic, rigid and has wasted considerable resources on administration. Travelling across the country, I have repeatedly been told about its dire consequences.”

However, Ms. Tauli-Corpuz said: “I want to emphasise that during my visit I have been particularly impressed and inspired by the strength of spirit and commitment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to develop innovative measures to support their own communities.”

She pointed to the number of peak organisations across a range of areas led by indigenous people. “The Government could achieve significant progress in realising the rights of indigenous peoples if it consulted and worked much more closely with these organisations,” she said.

“I have also observed effective community-led initiatives in a range of areas including public health, housing, education, child-protection, conservation and administration of justice, which all have the potential of making immediate significant positive changes in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.”

She called on the government to forge a new relationship with the national representative body for indigenous peoples, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, and restore their funding.

She expressed concern that the Government would not meet targets to close the gap in areas such as life expectancy, infant mortality, education and employment. She called for a comprehensive approach including specific targets for the reduction of detention rates, child removal and violence against women.

“I call on the Government to adopt a participatory approach based on consultation with indigenous peoples and take into account the ‘Redfern statement’, launched by peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait organisations in 2016, as it sets out priority areas for action and recommendations on issues ranging from health, justice, violence prevention, disability, children and families,” the expert concluded.

Ms. Tauli-Corpuz ended her two-week visit to Australia with a press conference in Barton in the Australian Capital Territory where she presented her initial findings and recommendations. She will present a comprehensive report to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017.

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Philippines), is a human rights activist working on indigenous peoples’ rights

. Her work for more than three decades has been focused on movement building among indigenous peoples and also among women, and she has worked as an educator-trainer on human rights, development and indigenous peoples in various contexts. She is a member of the Kankana-ey, Igorot indigenous peoples in the Cordillera Region in the Philippines.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.

Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

See the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples UN Human Rights, country page: Australia