Joint National Call to Action to reduce imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Newsletter date: 16 April 2011
* Call to Action to reduce imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
* Deaths in custody - 20 years since the Royal Commission
* Northern Territory (NT) Intervention
* Background to the Northern Territory (NT) Intervention
CALL TO ACTION TO REDUCE IMPRISONMENT OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE:
- Media Release
ANTaR - Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation:
Broad support for Call to Action to reduce Indigenous imprisonment
15 Apr 11: "A wide range of community organisations have endorsed a Call to Action aimed at dramatically reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our jails.
The Joint Call to Action was released today to mark 20 years since the final report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was handed to the Governor General. It is endorsed by a range of Aboriginal and community legal services and human rights organisations.
Ms Jacqueline Phillips, ANTaR National Director, says that it is unacceptable that imprisonment rates have continued to increase in the 20 years since the Royal Commission reported. Since 1989, the imprisonment rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has increased twelve times faster than the rate for the rest of the community. ... "
[Click on the above link to read the names of organisations who have endorsed the National Call to Action to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the criminal justice system.]
ANTaR - Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation:
Reducing Imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
14 Apr 11: "15th April 2011 marked 20 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed their Final Report to the Governor-General. The Report found that there are "disproportionate numbers of Aboriginal people in custody, compared with non-Aboriginal people" and that "too many Aboriginal people are in custody too often." Yet 20 years later this problem is even worse.
ANTaR used this occasion to launch a National Call to Action for federal, state and territory governments to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the criminal justice system. This Call to Action is also supported by a wide range of Aboriginal and community legal services and human rights organisations. ... "
- Email Writing Campaign
ANTaR - Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation:
Reduce Imprisonment Rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People
"Please send an email to federal party Leaders, Ministers and Shadow Ministers with responsibility for these issues urging them to support the National Call to Action."
ANTaR - Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation:
JOINT NATIONAL CALL TO ACTION
To reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the criminal justice system
15 Apr 11: "As community organisations and individuals committed to human rights and equal life opportunities for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, we:
1. note that today marks 20 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed its final report to the Governor-General and express concern at the failure of Australian Governments to implement most of the report’s recommendations;
2. recognise that genuine equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia will not be achieved until the serious over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our prisons, detention centres and criminal justice system is addressed;
3. commit to working together to bring about necessary changes in law, policy, funding, training and attitudes to rapidly reduce the imprisonment rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; and
4. call for cross-party support at federal, state and territory levels to targets, reforms, programs and funding which will reduce and subsequently eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the criminal justice system by: ... [click on above link to continue reading statement] "
The Wire: Changes to Indigenous Justice Badly Needed
[scroll down page] http://www.thewire.org.au/daydetail.aspx?SearchDay=2011-04-15
15 Apr 11: "Community, legal and indigenous not-for-profit groups are backing a call to action for a different approach to indigenous justice Because, they say, the way it's handled now, clearly, isn't working.
Featuring: Leigh Garrett, CEO of the Centre for Restorative Justice in South Australia;
Jacqueline Phillips, National Director of Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation;
Brendan O'Connor MP, Minister for Justice, Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Privacy and Freedom of Information."
DEATHS IN CUSTODY - 20 YEARS SINCE THE ROYAL COMMISSION:
WGAR News: Deaths in custody and Aboriginal incarceration rates (14 Apr 11)
- Media Releases
Rachel Siewert: Greens send clear message on deaths in custody – enough is enough
15 Apr 11: "The Australian Greens have called for effective justice reinvestment to become a key initiative in reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia’s prisons. ...
“It is important that we act on the underlying causes of this overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody, including reducing the disadvantage in employment, education and health. Justice reinvestment is an important part of this process.
“Justice Reinvestment is about diverting a proportion of the money that we expect to go into locking people up and re-targeting it to provide services in at-risk communities to address the underlying causes of crime.
“We need to be directing more resources into diversionary and rehab programs, as well as addressing health, education and housing.” [said Senator Siewert]"
Greens SA: 20 Years Since Report into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody
14 Apr 11: "“In the lead up to the 2010 election, the Rann Government again committed to monitoring and implementing recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody,” Ms Franks [Greens Aboriginal Affairs spokesperson] said.
“Aboriginal over-representation in South Australia’s prison system continues to worsen and the Government must take action to address this.
“Prisoners who last year identified as Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders made up 26 per cent of prisoners nationally, up another per cent from the previous year, while in SA Aboriginal people were 15.5 times more likely to be imprisoned in 2009, compared with 12.6 times more likely in 2003.”
Ms Franks said the statistics reflect that we need renewed and re-energised commitment from our leadership and the Government to realise the 339 recommendations covering health, education, housing, employment, policing practices and the judicial system in the 1987-commissioned report.
“The Government must become more accountable in addressing Aboriginal deaths in custody and high incarceration rates as a matter of priority - 20 years on is 20 years too late, for a new generation of Australians,” she said."
269: The number of Indigenous people who have died in custody since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody
13 Apr 11: "Mr. Bedford [Executive Officer and Acting CEO, Aboriginal Legal Service of WA (ALSWA)] said that CHOGM could be an important opportunity for compassionate and fair minded people to highlight Western Australia’s lamentable human rights record to its international guests. “To be honest, it really saddens me that so much money is being poured into building new prisons, rather than focusing on implementing the RCIADIC recommendations and diversionary programs to assist in keeping people out of prison. If you are an Aboriginal person you are fourteen times more likely to be incarcerated and it is unacceptable that governments are not doing more to address this issue. Not only are people still dying in custody, but there are also inadequate investigations into many of these deaths. I’m sure that the Commonwealth leaders would be shocked to discover that Aboriginal people represent 26% of Australia’s prisoners despite representing only 3% of the total population”."
- Analysis / Opinion
SMH: Deaths in custody still haunt indigenous communities
15 Apr 11: "The over-representation of indigenous people in the criminal justice system has been a challenge for policy makers and a source of advocacy and concern for many, particularly the indigenous community themselves. Today marks the 20th anniversary of the final report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. ... A key finding of the commission that investigated 99 deaths was that, although indigenous people were dying at the same rate as non-indigenous people in custody, the over-representation of indigenous people in the criminal justice system led to a higher percentage of deaths." Larissa Behrendt
Crikey: Deaths in custody: why are fatalities rising?
15 Apr 11: "According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, which is responsible for compiling national statistics on deaths in custody, the number of prison deaths since 2006 has risen nationwide, despite the size of the Australian prison population remaining fairly stable. In the decade to 2008 - the last year for which verifiable figures are available - 471 people died in Australian prison custody, an increase of nearly 50% from the decade to 1989, when the Royal Commission was conducting its investigations." Inga Ting
The Conversation: Police investigators too in-house to probe deaths in custody
15 Apr 11: "Twenty years since the handing down of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody there is still no system for genuine independent investigation of prisoner fatalities. Yet one central element of an effective investigation must be a genuine independence of the investigators from those whom they investigate. It is anathema to the effective investigation (i.e. one that arrives at the truth of an event) that the investigators involved have any interest, beyond an objective professional one, in the outcome of that investigation. ... " Craig Longman, Senior Researcher, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at University of Technology, Sydney
SBS World News Australia: Long way to go on deaths in custody: experts
14 Apr 11: "Twenty years after a royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in police custody released its findings, experts say more work is needed to address the issue. The Royal Commission releases its final report 20 years ago this Friday. ... To Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, the report's release was a moment of great hope for Australia's Aboriginal people. But while he believes the royal commission itself was perfect, the implementation of its recommendations has been the problem."
SBS Audio and Language: Aboriginal: Deaths In Custody - Community Voices
14 Apr 11: "Calls for real action on deaths in custody echo around the country. The voices in this audio montage have been collected by SBS Radio during parliamentary sessions, rallies, interviews and protests. Daisy Ward appears courtesy of the Deaths In Custody Watch Committee WA movie "Burnt Alive". This montage is only a fraction of the many voices calling for real action on the spiralling rate of Aboriginal incarceration, and deaths while in custody. Produced by Michelle Lovegrove."
SBS Audio and Language: Aboriginal: Deaths In Custody - South Australia
14 Apr 11: "South Australia has the smallest Aboriginal population in the country, but the second highest incarceration rates, behind WA."
SBS Audio and Language: Aboriginal: Deaths In Custody - Western Australia
14 Apr 11: "Western Australia - The Highest Aboriginal Incarceration Rates In The Country. ... The Aboriginal Legal Service of WA and the State's Deaths in Custody Watch Committee say many of the recommendations made in the Commission's final report have not been implemented."
SBS Audio and Language: Aboriginal: The Royal Commission's Terms Of Reference - Too Broad?
14 Apr 11: "Incarceration Skyrockets, Deaths Continue To Rise. The Senate recently formally supported a motion from Senator Rachel Siewert the Australian Greens Spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues. While the Senate has drawn attention to the continuing high rate of incarceration of ATSI people, Euahlayi elder Michael Anderson is admant that politicians haven't taken enough effective action to tackle most of the issues. Michael Anderson tells Garfield Samuels he believes the Royal Commission's major shortcomings were its terms of reference in the first place."
SBS Audio and Language: Aboriginal: Deaths In Custody - NSW
14 Apr 11: "Questions yet to be answered on NSW Aboriginal Deaths In Custody."
SBS Audio and Language: Aboriginal: Deaths In Custody - Queensland
14 Apr 11: "Queensland's score card on implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody."
Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association:
CAAMA Radio News 14-04-2011
14 Apr 11: "The chair of one of Australia’s largest Aboriginal land councils Deaths in Custody is still a major issue after the realease of the Royal Commision into aboriginal deaths in custody nearly 20 years ago."
Indigenous radio station 98.9FM Brisbane
Let's Talk - Indigenous presented talkback:
4 Apr 11: "Gerry Georgatos: Tiga Bayles spoke with Gerry Georgatos, Convenor of The Human Rights Alliance and Phd law researcher into Australian deaths in custody."
Listen to this interview on-line:
Perth Now: Rally marks Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report anniversary
15 Apr 11: "MORE than 200 people carrying white wooden crosses have marked the 20th anniversary of the handing down of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report. Marchers called for the Federal and State Governments to do more to stop indigenous Australians dying in custody at a much higher rate than non-indigenous people and to reduce their over-representation in prisons. The lunch time rally and march to parliament was organised by Western Australia's Deaths in Custody Watch Committee and the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA."
ABC: Deaths in custody rally slams lack of change
15 Apr 11: "About a hundred people have gathered in the centre of Perth to demand more action to prevent Aboriginal deaths in custody. It has been 20 years since the Royal Commission report into deaths in custody was released, but rally participants say the situation has not changed. The Chair of the Deaths in Custody committee, Marianne Mackay, says only a fraction of the 339 recommendations have been implemented."
AIA: Amnesty International outraged at continuing deaths in custody, 20 years after national inquiry
15 Apr 11: "Twenty years after Australia’s most significant inquiry into Aboriginal deaths in custody, Amnesty International remains outraged at the tragic consequences of government inaction in implementing its recommendations. ... “I don’t know what to call it other than a disgrace. Twenty years on and Aboriginal people are still dying in jails,” said Rodney Dillon, Indigenous Rights Campaigner, Amnesty International Australia."
University of Technology Sydney - UTS News Room:
Police oversight on custody issues "not enough"
15 Apr 11: "In summary: * Researchers from UTS's Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning have called for the creation of an independent statutory body to investigate allegations of assault against, or the death of, people in police custody * Twenty years after the report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, systems for police oversight are still too in-house and conflicted the researchers say"
WA today: Three-quarters of children in jail are Aboriginal: advocates
15 Apr 11: "Nearly 75 per cent of children in Western Australian prisons are Aboriginal, according to shocking new figures released by Aboriginal rights advocates. WA currently has the highest incarceration rate of Aboriginal people in the nation, with nearly 39 per cent of the 4683 adults in prison and 73.8 per cent of 202 juveniles at Banksia Hill and Rangeview detention centres coming from an indigenous background. This is despite the Aboriginal population only making up 4 per cent of the state's total population."
ABC: Aboriginal deaths in custody lessons 'not heeded'
15 Apr 11: "Aboriginal deaths in custody will continue as long as governments pursue "tough on crime" policies, the Northern Territory Criminal Lawyers' Association says. The Royal Commission report into Aboriginal deaths in custody was released 20 years ago today and recommended governments immediately work to reduce the number of Aboriginal people in prison. The association's president John Lawrence says the lessons of the report have not been heeded. "The bottom line is that we've gotten nowhere - slowly, backwards, up a hill blindfolded," he said."
9 News: Rally to mark deaths in custody report
15 Apr 11: "Brisbane elder Sam Watson has organised a rally in Queens Park and he will be joined by members of the Queensland Greens. Queensland Greens spokeswoman Libby Connors said it was a tragedy that more than 260 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had died in custody since the report was handed down. "Queensland has contributed to this legacy of shame and its history of police-(Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) community relations remains mired in a colonial, punitive framework," Ms Connors said in a statement."
Uniting Church in Australia - Western Australia:
If you keep doing the same things, you’ll keep getting the same results
15 Apr 11: "On Friday, 15 April, the day marking 20 years since the release of the report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC), the Uniting Church in Western Australia has called for a change of direction by the State Government to address the ongoing problems of Aboriginal imprisonment rates and Aboriginal deaths in custody in WA. Moderator of the Uniting Church, Rev Ken Williams said, “It saddens us greatly to see that so many of the recommendations of the 1991 Royal Commission are just as relevant today as they were 20 years ago.“"
AFP: Australia rapped on Aboriginal imprisonment
14 Apr 11: "SYDNEY — Human rights advocates attacked the Australian government Thursday over the disproportionate number of Aborigines in the nation's jails 20 years after a landmark inquiry into prison deaths. Amnesty International expressed "outrage" at the fact that Aborigines -- Australia's original inhabitants and its most impoverished minority -- were 14 times more likely to be jailed than non-indigenous people. Too little had been done in the 20 years since a Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody recommended sweeping reforms to improve the plight of the nation's first people, Amnesty said."
ABC Goldfields WA: Two decades on from landmark royal commission, Aboriginal deaths in custody still not addressed
14 Apr 11: "The WA Deaths in Custody watch committee was set up in 1993 to lobby for the implementation of the recommendations. Spokesman Marc Newhouse says in the early days there was some willingness to act, but that urgency has now been lost. "In the last 5-6 years it's been a brick wall in our talks with the state government, their attitude is that it's all been taken care of. But WA currently has the highest incarceration rate of Aboriginal people in the country. The Government does know the answer - the Royal Commission identifies that it's social and economic disadvantage, we've failed in addressing that."" Emma Wynne
9 News: New focus sought on Aboriginal jailings
14 Apr 11: "The Greens have called for a renewed commitment to deal with issues raised 20 years ago by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. South Australian Greens MP Tammy Franks said Aboriginal over-representation in SA prisons continued to worsen, as Friday marked two decades since the commission handed down its findings. "Aboriginal over-representation in South Australia's prison system continues to worsen and the government must take action," Ms Franks said."
Lawyers Weekly: AG links alcohol with Aboriginal gaol rates
14 Apr 11: "Attorney-General Robert McClelland has declared alcohol is a major contributor to the Indigenous rate of incarceration. Speaking to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, McClelland said that while the number of Aboriginals who have died in custody has reduced over the past two decades, Indigenous Australians remain highly over-represented in the criminal justice system."
ABC Indigenous: Deaths in custody group opens Kalgoorlie office
13 Apr 11: "The Deaths in Custody Watch Committee says the campaign against police custody laws will intensify after the opening of its new branch in Kalgoorlie. About 70 people attended a rally, organised by the committee, in Kalgoorlie last week, to demand changes to the custody system."
[Ed. note: Apologies for not including the many more articles on this topic. You can try googling for the topic if you want more. I just got tired.]
NORTHERN TERRITORY (NT) INTERVENTION:
- Media Release
Rollback the Intervention - Media Releases
Town camp leader outraged by Bess Price claims on Q and A
15 Apr 11: "Barbara Shaw, spokesperson for the Intervention Rollback Action Group in Alice Springs and resident of Mt Nancy Town camp says that comments by Bess Price on Q and A about the “success” of the Intervention ignore the huge evidence of continuing failure.
IRAG says Mrs Price’s comments have caused distress amongst people living in prescribed areas under the Intervention, whose experiences of deteriorating social conditions continue to be ignored by government and mainstream media.
“It is outrageous that Bess Price can continue to go on national media and spread false information on the Intervention while life in our town camps and communities gets harder and harder”, says Barbara Shaw.
“We now have a massive crisis in Alice Springs as people come in from the bush because of the failure of the Intervention. On Monday night while Bess was on Q and A talking about our kids being safer, I was dealing with multiple situations of children needing emergency care.” ... "
ABC Radio National Awaye!: Elders on the intervention
16 Apr 11: "A group of elders from communities across the Northern Territory talk about the impact of the intervention. It doesn't matter where you stand, the Northern Territory Emergency Response has had a profound impact on the lives of many thousands of Aboriginal people."
BACKGROUND TO THE NORTHERN TERRITORY (NT) INTERVENTION:
Northern Territory Emergence Response (NTER)—"The Intervention": http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/politics/northern-terr...
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Northern Territory National Emergency Response: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Territory_intervention
IRAG (Intervention Rollback Action Group): http://rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com/
Jobs with Justice: http://jobswithjustice.wordpress.com/
STICS (Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney): http://stoptheintervention.org/
ANTaR (Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation) - NT intervention: http://www.antar.org.au/issues_and_campaigns/nt_intervention
MAIC (Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective): http://maicollective.blogspot.com/
'concerned Australians': http://www.concernedaustralians.com.au/
Defending Indigenous Rights: http://defendingindigenousrights.wordpress.com/
Intervention walk-off's Blog: http://interventionwalkoff.wordpress.com/
Australian Human Rights Commission:
Northern Territory ‘Emergency Response’ intervention: http://www.hreoc.gov.au/social_justice/intervention/index.html
WGAR (Working Group for Aboriginal Rights): http://wgar.info/
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