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

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Updated Sunday 27 the November

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

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

Print

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

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

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

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

Statement by Amnesty International

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

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

‘Lock-em-up’ punitive approach has failed

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

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

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

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

Listen, understand

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

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

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

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

See the statement here.

just-justice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just Justice Prevention and Healing needed Article 2 and Invite Below

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waiting until after prison is too late.

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

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

Just Justice Prevention and Healing needed

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

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

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

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

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

Prevention and healing needed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : #Justicereinvestment offers chance to cut number of Indigenous inmates

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” No matter which way you look at it, Indigenous imprisonment represents a national crisis. New approaches urgently are needed and the promising reports of the Bourke justice reinvestment trial offer a glimmer of hope.

Indigenous Australians represent 2.5 per cent of the population and 27 per cent of prisoners. About half of those behind bars are there for nonviolent offences, including driving offences, property offences and breaches of court orders.

But we know those who have spent significant time in jail have a far greater propensity for violent crime on release.”

Stuart Clark is president of the Law Council of Australia writing in The Australian

Picture above See NACCHO Post

In fact, 80 per cent of those released will return to prison at least once, and usually more than once. In many cases this will be for procedural offences, such as breach of parole. Many people who are in prison are being held on remand. In the case of youths in detention, most are on remand because in many cases no other options are available for at-risk children.

Putting people behind bars at the current rate is an economic and moral disaster.

Morally, the system fails on a number of levels. By the time a young indigenous person is imprisoned, it is usually at the end of a series of incidents or interactions with the justice system that have led to their imprisonment being inevitable.

Most indigenous perpetrators of crime are themselves victims of crime, as youths or as adults. The fastest growing cohort in Australian prisons are indigenous women, who are overwhelmingly victims of domestic violence.

We also know that the vast majority of those imprisoned suffer an intellectual, cognitive or sensory disability.

A system geared primarily towards imprisonment simply perpetuates the downward spiral.

The system also costs many billions of dollars and grows more costly each year.

It includes prisons, law enforcement, legal services, community services, lost tax income and a greater welfare burden (because former inmates cannot find employment). And these are just the costs we can measure.

In NSW, a new prison is being built to accommodate its burgeoning prison population. The Northern Territory opened a super prison in 2014 costing $1.8 billion.

However, politicians and governments need to answer a fundamental question: is the current approach to criminal justice working? All of the existing data suggests that it isn’t.

During the past 10 years, most categories of crime — including violent crime — have trended downwards. However, indigenous imprisonment has continued to rise dramatically.

This is why the significant early strides being made by the Maranguka justice reinvestment pilot project in Bourke offer such hope.

Maranguka is the first major Australian trial of justice reinvestment. First developed in the US, justice reinvestment is a data-driven approach that aims to reduce offending and imprisonment, and reinvest savings into strategies that reduce crime and improve public safety. Justice reinvestment sometimes has been dismissed as a simple push for reduced sentences. This fundamentally misunderstands its objectives.

It is about listening to communities about crime and community problems at the local level, and constructing solutions that deal with those problems at the source.

Those who viewed the ABC’s Four Corners on Monday will have seen many examples in action.

Problem: a significant proportion of the trouble in Bourke stemmed from driving offences — often, driving without a licence.

Reality: it became clear after speaking with members of the community that illegal driving was often the only form of driving familiar to local kids. Indigenous youths in Bourke don’t typically have family members with cars, so driving lessons are impractical.

Solution: reinvest resources to free driving lessons.

Result: today the number of people jailed for driving offences in Bourke is the lowest in a decade. This approach is simple, effective and much, much less costly.

Another Bourke example is the allocation of police resources to follow-up visits with the perpetrators and victims of domestic abuse. A day or two after a domestic violence call-out, a local officer is dispatched to check in.

In the three months police have been following this procedure there has not been a single case of domestic reoffending.

While our instinctive reaction to crime is to punish criminals, we need to consider whether society’s interests are best served by feeding an endless cycle of imprisonment and reoffending. Fortunately, there is evidence governments are starting to listen. Brad Hazzard MP, the former NSW attorney-general, has thrown his personal support behind the justice reinvestment trial in Bourke.

Malcolm Turnbull has said juvenile detention will be on the agenda at the next meeting of the Council of Australian Governments, which creates an excellent opportunity for the heads of government to establish a national strategy to address imprisonment.

The commonwealth can show its immediate commitment to these initiatives by reversing cuts to indigenous legal services slated for July next year.

Stuart Clark is president of the Law Council of Australia.

NACCHO #justjustice Prison Health News :Conference aims to improve the health of Aboriginal prisoners and former prisoners

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 Geraldton Aboriginal Medical Service [GAMS] conference being held this week aims at developing strategies to improve the health of Aboriginal prisoners and former prisoners

Reports by Sarah Taillier ABC

Follow on Twitter #justjustice

GAMS chairman Sandy Davies (pictured below) said Aboriginal prisoners were at greater risk of chronic illness, mental illness and substance abuse.

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“We aim to solve these problems by looking at alternatives to prison for minor offences, reducing the rate of ex-prisoners returning to prison, and paving the way for ex-offenders to better integrate back into society,” he said.

Mr Davies said prison should be treated as a last resort.

“Prison’s there for a purpose, it’s to protect the community,” he said.

“I don’t want people to misconstrue that we’re wanting to get prisoners out of prison – it’s just that there’s so many people in there that could be doing other things.”

Mr Gooda said if Aboriginal people were represented in jail at the same rate as the general population, it would save the country about $800 million a year in incarceration costs.

“Here’s a way governments can actually save a bit of money; by not locking people up who shouldn’t be locked up,” he said.

Mr Gooda said practical changes within the judicial and policing system could reduce Indigenous incarceration rates.

“Really practical day to day things that we can go to government with, that doesn’t involve overturning the whole justice system,” he said.

“Things like notifying people of court appearances, people with cognitive disabilities – let’s not put them in jail, let’s put them in an appropriate facility.

“Those are the sort of things I think we should be starting to look at, because every one person we save one night in jail, we’re heading towards reducing this awful rate.”

The conference was supported by NACCHO chair Matthew Cooke and CEO Lisa Briggs

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Aboriginal incarceration rates at crisis point, says social justice commissioner Mick Gooda

Aboriginal incarceration rates have reached crisis point and communities need to unite to address the problem, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Mick Gooda says.

Figures from the Productivity Commission show a 57 per cent rise in incarceration rates among Indigenous men, women and children over the past 15 years.

Speaking ahead of a Geraldton Aboriginal Medical Service [GAMS] conference aimed at developing strategies to improve the health of Aboriginal prisoners and former prisoners, Mr Gooda said high Aboriginal incarceration rates and poor Aboriginal health were intrinsically entwined.

“If you think putting people in jail creates safe communities, we’re kidding ourselves,” he said.

“Stopping people offending creates safe communities.

“So that’s what we’re looking at now, how can we create safe communities.”

Mr Gooda said urgent action was needed to reduce incarceration rates.

“I’ve run out of adjectives, from emergency to urgent, to a catastrophe in the making, because the figures just keep climbing,” he said.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are 15 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous Australians.

Mr Gooda said it was vital Indigenous communities were united on the issue.

“If you don’t have a unified voice, the government will do whatever they want because they’ve got permission to do it because people aren’t coming together,” he said.

“So it’s really important that communities sit down and start talking together

Inside Out: Indigenous imprisonment in Australia – documentary video

 

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Filmed on the plains of north-western New South Wales, this documentary looks at one man’s fight against the scourge of Indigenous imprisonment in his community.

VIEW DOCUMENTARY HERE

Inside Out tells the story of a pastor and former prison guard, Uncle Isaac Gordon, whose dream is to see the numbers of Aboriginal youths heading to jail slashed. Gordon wants to build a ‘healing centre’ for troubled Aboriginal young people at risk of jail time, built on his family’s ancestral land near the towns of Brewarrina and Walgett. But will government bodies get on board?