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He spent a lot of time with Aboriginal inmates, and noticed that some of the men seemed withdrawn, and did their best to avoid interacting with guards, parole officers and judges — even when it was in their best interests.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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #NTRC Children : Download Interim Report from the Royal Commission Protection and Detention of Children

” It is a stark fact that the Northern Territory has the highest rate of children and young people in detention in this country and the highest rate of engagement with child protection services, by a considerable margin

Again, as noted by the Commission, we have had over 50 reports and inquiries into issues covered by the Inquiry, dating at least back to the Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody and the Bringing Them Home inquiry. We absolutely support the Commission’s position that:

There is community concern that this Commission’s recommendations and report will, like those before it, be shelved without leading to action and change.

This must not happen.”

John Paterson CEO AMSANT and spokesperson for APO

Along with reforms to youth justice and our early childhood reforms, this Government has begun building more remote houses because we know a good home leads to a good education, good health and good community outcomes,

“We are also tackling the causes of crime and social dysfunction through a plan to combat alcohol abuse – bringing back the BDR – and investing in appropriate rehabilitation strategies

Chief Minister Michael Gunner welcomes the release of the Royal Commission’s interim report which highlights work already happening to address the cycle of crime through the Territory Labor Government’s youth justice system overhaul.

Mr Gunner said the root cause of many of the challenges highlighted in the Royal Commission’s Interim Report was disadvantage. See Full Press release below

Download or Read  NT Govt response NTRC Interim report

 ” The Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion needs to show leadership, and step away from his statement in the Senate this week that justice targets are only the state and territories’ responsibility.

It is now beyond argument. The Royal Commission interim report, the Productivity Commission report, and the work of Change the Record Coalition, all point to the need for national leadership and commitment.

The right of children and young people to receive justice and fair treatment is a national responsibility.

Minister Scullion and the Turnbull Government need to act and the Labor Opposition stands ready to work with them on this critical task.”

SENATOR PATRICK DODSON

Download or Read Labour Response NTRC Interin Report

Download or read the interim report

The RCNT-Interim-report

APONT welcomes the Interim Report from the Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.

The Interim Report, which has gathered evidence from a wide range of witnesses, clearly demonstrates our people face a system which, in the words of the Commission “reveals a youth detention system that is likely to leave many children and young people more damaged than when they entered.”

Critics of the Royal Commission have claimed that “we already know this” and that it has been a waste of time and money. This is not the case. The Commission has demonstrated a system which is broken, and in urgent need of radical reform. As the Commission has pointed out:

A total of 94 per cent of children and young people in detention and 89 per cent of children and young people in out-of-home care in the Northern Territory are Aboriginal. The extent of this over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people, compared with all other children and young people, including Torres Strait Islanders, compels specific consideration of their position.

While the Interim Report does not make specific recommendations, it is clear that it will seek a balance between those who are concerned about community safety and reform that will lead to better outcomes for our young people in avoiding the effects of intergenerational trauma and involvement with the legal system.

We welcome this approach. We need a greater emphasis on rehabilitation and restorative justice that will lead to safer communities for all of us.

Michael Gunner

Chief Minister of the Northern Territory

Interim Report Backs Territory Government Action

31 March 2017

Chief Minister Michael Gunner welcomes the release of the Royal Commission’s interim report which highlights work already happening to address the cycle of crime through the Territory Labor Government’s youth justice system overhaul.

Mr Gunner said the Interim Report did not put forward recommendations or findings, but identified themes directly relating to work already underway.

“My Government took immediate action upon coming to Government to overhaul the broken youth justice system and implement our child protection agenda,” Mr Gunner said.

“Our $18.2 million reform – the most comprehensive in our history directlyaligns with many of the challenges the Royal Commission has identified in its interim report.

“I have discussed the Report with the Prime Minister, and reiterated with him the challenges and issues identified in the interim report require an aligned effort between the Commonwealth and the NT Government.”

Changes already implemented by the Territory Labor Government include:

  • Passing legislation to ban spithoods and restraint chairs;
  • Funding 52 new youth diversion workers;
  • Providing $6 million to NGO’s to run diversion programs and boot camps;
  • Recruitment and training 25 new Youth Justice Officers in Darwin and Alice Springs.

“This is not a short term fix. We are rebuilding trust in Government by making a long term commitment that goes beyond election cycles, focussing on breaking the cycle of crime through early intervention and tough but fair rehabilitation and diversion programs,” Mr Gunner said.

Mr Gunner said the root cause of many of the challenges highlighted in the Royal Commission’s Interim Report was disadvantage.

He said the NT Government is addressing the cycle of disadvantage through its record $1.1 billion investment to build and improve remote houses right across the Territory.

Mr Gunner said he looked forward to receiving the final report in August.

NT youth detention system a failure, says royal commission

Commissioners Margaret White and Mick Gooda use interim report to criticise operation that focuses on punishment over rehabilitation

Juvenile detention is failing, the royal commission into the protection and detention of children in the Northern Territory has said in its interim report.

As reported in the Guardian

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Released on Friday afternoon, the report contained no specific findings or recommendations, claiming it was “too early” while hearings were ongoing, despite the significance of evidence so far.

“The commission is yet to hear evidence on many issues, including evidence from senior management and political leaders in charge of youth detention who provide a perspective that is necessary to inform the work of the commission,” it said.

However it said it could make some observations, including that the youth detention system “is likely to leave many children and young people more damaged than when they entered”.

“We have heard that the detention facilities are not fit for accommodating children and young people, and not fit for the purpose of rehabilitation. They are also unsuitable workplaces for youth justice officers and other staff,” it said.

They are harsh, bleak, and not in keeping with modern standards. They are punitive, not rehabilitative.”

The report said evidence so far pointed overwhelmingly to community safety and child wellbeing being best achieved by a “comprehensive, multifaceted approach” based on crime prevention, early intervention, diversionary measures, and community engagement.”

Children and young people who have committed serious crimes must accept responsibility for the harm done. However while in detention they must be given every chance to get their lives on track and not leave more likely to reoffend.

For the past eight months the inquiry into the protection and detention of children in the Northern Territory has been investigating the policies, conditions, and actions which contributed to a juvenile justice crisis.

“At every level we have seen that a detention system which focuses on punitive – not rehabilitative – measures fails our young people,” said Margaret White, one of the commissioners, on Friday ahead of the report’s release. “It fails those who work in those systems and it fails the people of the Northern Territory who are entitled to live in safer communities.

 “For a system to work children and young people in detention must be given every opportunity to get their lives on track and to re-enter the community less likely to reoffend.”

White said there was no quick fix and a considered approach was necessary if the commission was to effect long-term, sustainable change

Mick Gooda, the other commissioner said they had made no specific recommendations in the interim report because key witnesses – including the former minister John Elferink and former corrections commissioner Ken Middlebrook – were yet to be questioned. The commission had also focused mainly on issues in detention so far, and was yet to properly delve in the care and protection side of their terms of reference.

“We have cast the net far and wide to look at what is working and what could work in the circumstances of the Northern Territory,” he said, adding there was a particular focus on the overrepresentation of Aboriginal youth in the system.

 “In the coming months we’ll shift our focus on to the care and protection system. This is a critical part of our work and evidence before the commission shows that children and young people in out-of-home care are more likely to enter the detention system. Those systems are inextricably linked.”

The commission was initially slated to be finished by now, but in December it was granted a four-month extension.

Over a series of public hearings and site visits it has covered a broad range of issues, including the more than 50 previous investigations and reviews relating to the system, the impact of health and race issues on detention rates, the disintegrating relationships between corrections and justice agencies, and, of course, the conditions inside detention centres.

Inadequate staff training and insufficient resources were a common theme in witness testimony.

Dozens of additional allegations by detainees were also aired in closed sessions and open court, including alleged and substantiated acts of violence and intimidation, and mistreatment.

The commission faced criticism by government lawyers and commentators over its policy to accept the statements of detainees but not allow cross-examination because they were vulnerable witnesses. Instead numerous responsive statements were provided by the accused, denying and in some cases refuting the claims. Some statements by former guards were similarly discredited under cross-examination.

The Human Rights Law Centre said the royal commission’s interim report would have lessons applicable for all Australian jurisdictions. “These types of problems are not limited to the NT,” said Shahleena Musk, a senior lawyer at the centre. “Right across Australia, politicians are trying to score points by looking tough and ignoring the evidence on what actually works.”

Musk cited the Victorian government’s decision to move youths to a maximum security adult prison as an example. “We know that overly punitive and tougher responses are harmful and don’t work. They don’t help kids get back on track, which is ultimately in the interest of community safety.”

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download Press Release 25 March Labor CTG Prison Rates

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.NACCHO

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

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

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

5. NSW See Article here

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

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

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

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

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

7.Dan Conifer for ABC TV reports from here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conspicuously, Mr Turnbull did not rule out the target.

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

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

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

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

Senator Siewert said she was now more hopeful of change.

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

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

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

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

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

‘I find it embarrassing’: Wyatt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SATURDAY, 25 March

6.What gets measured gets managed

Summer May Finlay writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He made no mention of incarceration and justice.

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

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

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

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

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


 

3.Transform Australia’s prisons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Kriti Sharma is a disability rights researcher for Human Rights Watch

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

Further NACCHO reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kriti Sharma is a disability rights researcher for Human Rights Watch

 

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How you can support #JustJustice

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

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

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

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

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

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

Readers may also be interested in these articles:

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

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Resources

Cultural awareness isn’t enough

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

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

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

Download the COAG Cultural Respect Framework here :

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

Originally published at The Conversation and then Croakey /JustJustice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unconscious bias

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Equality vs Equity

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

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

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

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

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

Cultural awareness isn’t enough

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

croakey-new

How you can support #JustJustice

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

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

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

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

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

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

Readers may also be interested in these articles:

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

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

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

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

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

Senator Siewert Greens Senator moved the following motion in the Senate

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO NOTE :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scope of the reference

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

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

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

Consultation

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

Timeframe

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

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

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