28.03.18 ALRC FINAL REPORT ON INQUIRY INTO INCARCERATION RATES OF INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS

ALRC FINAL REPORT ON INQUIRY INTO INCARCERATION RATES OF INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS

Labor welcomes the Australian Law Reform Commission's final report on the inquiry into the incarceration rates of Indigenous Australians. 

Labor thanks the many organisations that have contributed to the ALRC's inquiry by sharing their experience, expertise and integral ideas for effective change going forward. 

Labor will carefully consider the report and acknowledges its promising role as a national blueprint for change.

Labor urges the Government to take immediate action in addressing First Nations justice issues.

The current reality of incarceration of First Nations people in Australia is a national crisis which requires leadership that has not been shown by the Government. The final report tabled today was handed to the Attorney General's office in December 2017 which indicates a concerning lack of urgency. The Government’s lack of action in these matters is unacceptable and continues to be condemned by international communities.

Twenty-seven years on from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, 27 percent of Australia's prison population is represented by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. An Aboriginal man is 15 times more likely to be imprisoned than a non-Aboriginal man. In the past 5 years, there has been a 30 percent increase in the rate of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. These alarming statistics are unacceptable.

Labor repeats its call for national justice targets under the Closing the Gap framework, developed in consultation with state and territory governments, and guided by community leaders, Elders and peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations. The Government should agree to national justice targets as part of the Closing the Gap refresh.

National justice targets should include specific targets to reduce current incarceration statistics, which will allow a focus on justice reinvestment, community safety and preventing crime. In order to ensure change, justice targets must be implemented.

Greater attention needs to be given to addressing the barriers to justice that affect First Nations peoples, and the provision of culturally appropriate, community-based sentencing options and support services.

This report cannot be ignored and recommendations must play a key role in overdue reforms.

Immediate action must be taken to address the incarceration rates of First Nations Australians. National leadership is essential, not optional.

WEDNESDAY, 28 MARCH 2018

 

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