NACCHO justice ANTaR campaign support: Abbott Government delivers a blow to Aboriginal Justice

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The defunding directly targets ATSILS work with governments to address the drivers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration.

The cuts will mean that even more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will not be able to access essential legal services and will result in more people ending up in prison.”

Abbott Government delivers a blow to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice

ACTION -URGE THE PM to REVERSE THE DECISION HERE

For the last year we have been working towards establishing a national campaign to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the criminal justice system.

Australia’s First People’s are dramatically over-represented in prison statistics. Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprise only about 2.5 per cent of the Australian population, they make up 26 per cent of the total prison population. This is an imprisonment rate 14 times higher than the non-Indigenous rate.

ANTaR is campaigning to change this unacceptable situation. Significant campaign activity has  been instigated around the release of ‘Doing Time – A Time for Doing : Indigenous youth in the criminal justice system’; the Standing Committee of Attorneys General recommedation that specific COAG targets be set; and the 20th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

Our campaign goals are to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in prison and to end Aboriginal deaths in custody.

  1. Aboriginal people are severely over-represented in the criminal justice system.
  2. Decades of inaction on this issue mean the situation is getting worse. Despite the existence of major policy reports and numerous recommendations, most notably the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADC) report, governments have failed to act.
  3. The national Closing the Gap strategy currently does not include imprisonment issues or a justice target. This is a missing link and means there is little national coordination and no national focus on imprisonment rates.
  4. Aboriginal people continue to die in custody – 270 people since the RCIADC report in 1991.
  5. Growing prison populations mean increased costs for taxpayers without breaking the cycle of offending. The system is not working to prevent crime and is not sustainable.

What could change look like?

ANTaR is campaigning for:

  1. The national adoption of a justice target, which commits all governments to reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment as part of the Closing the Gap strategy.
  2. National action to end deaths in custody including independent investigations into allegations into police misconduct or abuse and independent inspections of all custodial facilities to ensure conditions are safe and humane.
  3. A coordinated, national Justice Reinvestment approach to divert resources over time from prisons into community programs. This would prevent crime, reduce imprisonment rates and create safer communities through better targeted public spending

We received a crushing blow with news that the Abbott Government have decided to defund the lead agency in this campaign, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS).

This is not a cut, this is a complete defunding, meaning that NATSILS will cease to exist if the defunding goes ahead.

NATSILS and law reform and policy officers in state and territory based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS) work with governments to address the underlying causes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration, through evidenced based policy development, education and diversionary and prevention programs.

The defunding directly targets ATSILS work with governments to address the drivers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration.

The cuts will mean that even more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will not be able to access essential legal services and will result in more people ending up in prison.

Incarceration rates continue to rise without making communities any safer. In order to turn this situation around we need to develop sound, evidence-based policies. It makes no sense to defund the organisations best able to do this.

You can help!  Add your voice to urge the Prime Minister to take this matter in hand and reverse the decision to defund NATSILS and the policy officer positions in state and territory based ATSILS.

ACTION -URGE THE PM to REVERSE THE DECISION HERE

Enter your details and a short message which we will send on your behalf to the following politicians:

  • The Hon Tony Abbott MP, Prime Minister
  • The Hon Joe Hockey MP, Treasurer
  • Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General
  • Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion, Minister for Indigenous Affairs

Help us send a strong message now. Tell our nation’s leaders  “You can’t get smart on crime if you cut out the knowledge base.”

Send your letter now. 

How you can help

Help our campaign by staying in touch, donating to ANTaR and telling your friends about ANTaR and the need to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the criminal justice system.

NACCHO political health news : Abbott Government cuts to impact on Aboriginal health

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Closing the gap requires a coordinated approach at the state and federal levels as the challenges faced by Aboriginal people are interconnected.You can’t improve overall health outcomes without also looking at the social determinants, things like housing, education and poverty. Similarly, you can’t improve health outcomes while the numbers of Aboriginal people in our jails continues to rise,”

Said NACCHO chair Justin Mohamed .(see press release below) pictured above with Shane Duffy NATSILS

Congress calls upon the Prime Minister to show leadership and understanding of the need for increased capacity in our organisations and communities.  He can demonstrate that by ensuring the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services is retained and strengthened,”

Said Co-Chair National Congress Les Malezer.(see press release below)

Overview

Yesterday the Federal Government delivered the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2013-2014.
Here are some things from the report as they relate to Aboriginal Affairs and Aboriginal Health and Health more broadly.
Ceased
-The Indigenous Carbon Farming Fund
-Remote Indigenous Energy Programme
-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Programme ($1.0 m in 2013-2014)
-Office of the Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services
-$27m from the Healthier Communities Priority Infrastructure Programme
-$5m Chronic Disease Prevention and Services Improvement Fund
-National Rural and Remote Health Infrastructure Programs – 22.3m
-Public Health Program – $6mil
Established
-$45 mil for Vocation Training and Employment Centres for 5000 Aboriginal job seekers under the Generation One model
-$5 for Empowered Communities based on Jawun Model.
-$1mil for Indigenous Advisory Council (Chaired by Warren Mundine)
-$40mil of redirected funding to re-open Indigenous Employment Programme in remote areas

NACCHO Press release

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chair, Justin Mohamed, said cutting legal services made no economic sense when you take into account the wider implications of incarceration on issues such as employment, education and health.

“The fact is people in our jail system often suffer from poor mental and physical health,” Mr Mohamed said.

“Incarceration also can have broader impacts on the health of those left behind – on the imprisoned person’s family and broader community.

“With rates of incarceration of Aboriginal people increasing, we should be doing everything we can to turn around the huge numbers of Aboriginal people in our prisons.

“NACCHO supports the good work of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services – both who play an important role in keeping our people out of jail.

“They provide education and early intervention support and advice which can mean the difference between a life of incarceration and one that makes a contribution to the community.

“The Federal Government need to rethink their position and recognise how crucial a national voice on Aboriginal legal policy is in reducing the disproportionate numbers of Aboriginal people in the justice system.

“Aboriginal peak bodies understand better than anyone the issues their people face and the factors that contribute to them entering the justice system.

“Taking that voice from the mix to save a few dollars will just hamper future efforts to improve outcomes across a range of factors including health, education and employment.”

Mr Mohamed said closing the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people needed an integrated approach.

“Aboriginal people make up more than thirty percent of the prison population, despite being only a fraction of the Australian population.

“Closing the gap requires a coordinated approach at the state and federal levels as the challenges faced by Aboriginal people are interconnected.

“You can’t improve overall health outcomes without also looking at the social determinants, things like housing, education and poverty. Similarly, you can’t improve health outcomes while the numbers of

Aboriginal people in our jails continues to rise,” Mr Mohamed said.

National Congress Condemns Cuts

 
The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (Congress) strongly opposes the decision by the Federal Government to cut funding to community controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.
The government’s ‘hit or miss’ funding cuts to our organisations, at the beginning of their term and before the completion of their highly-publicised inquiries, endangers the collaborative approach offered by the Prime Minister.
Today’s news that the national body for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services is to be defunded is a significant blow and does not reflect an effort to engage in partnership.
Having a national body for the legal services increases the skills, experience and effectiveness of all the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, and brings greater efficiency to the expenditure incurred by those legal services.
“Congress calls upon the Prime Minister to show leadership and understanding of the need for increased capacity in our organisations and communities.  He can demonstrate that by ensuring the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services is retained and strengthened,” said Co-Chair Les Malezer.
“Our Peoples must be self-determining and will not accept Governments making decisions on funding priorities without us.
“Removing our capacity for policy reform and advocacy to legal assistance programs delivered by Aboriginal, community and legal aid services will affect the most marginalised and vulnerable members of our community.
“Congress supports organisations controlled by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to continue representing our interests and to provide expert advice on service delivery,” said Mr Malezer.
Congress recently made a strongly worded submission to the National Commission of Audit which reinforces our fundamental principles of self-determination and community decision making.
“Significant under investment by successive Governments makes our Peoples predicament comparable to some developing countries, “said Co-Chair Kirstie Parker.
“We cannot accept any reduction in Commonwealth spending on housing, remote infrastructure, legal services, community safety, native title, languages and culture, when investment and capacity building is what’s clearly required.
“We will continue to work with the Commission to engage with all of our members.
“Community input and ownership are highlighted as keys to achieve improvements by the Government’s own landmark reports – including the Department of Finance Strategic Review of Indigenous Expenditure (2011) and the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key indicators 2011 report,” said Ms Parker.
Contact Congress : Liz Willis 0457 877 408  NACCHO Colin Cowell 0401 331 251
 
 

Government avoids scrutiny by cutting Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous ServicesGeneral for Remote Indigenous Services.

“This cost cutting measure from the Government is deeply disappointing and will further undermine efforts to deliver on our Closing the Gap commitments,” Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues.
“The role of Coordinator General is to ‘monitor, assess, advise and drive progress relating to improvements in government service delivery in 29 remote Indigenous communities across Australia’.
Removing this role will directly affect the ability of the Government to monitor and report on the implementation of policies.
“This cut is a comparatively small amount of money that the Government admits will be used to either save money or fund other, unnamed policies.
It isn’t even being reinvested in other programs to help people in remote Australia.
“Decisions such as this make a mockery of Tony Abbott’s comments about being the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs, as once again his Government seeks to avoid scrutiny and accountability for its policies,” Senator Siewert concluded.