Six months since ALRC 'Pathways to justice' report released - still no response from the government

This week, a coalition of human rights organisations issued an open letter calling for a response from the Federal Government to respond to the ALRC’s Pathways to Justice report.

SENATOR PATRICK DODSON
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS 
AND ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS
SENATOR FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA
 
THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
 
 
SIX MONTH’S SINCE ALRC ‘PATHWAYS TO JUSTICE’ REPORT RELEASED – STILL NO RESPONSE FROM THE GOVERNMENT
 

This week, a coalition of human rights organisations issued an open letter calling for a response from the Federal Government to respond to the ALRC’s Pathways to Justice report.
 
Labor supports this call.
 
It is time for honesty from this Government on how they plan to address the incarceration crisis facing First Nations people.
 
The ALRC made 35 recommendations towards systemic reform of how the justice system deals with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Their findings came  from 11 months of research, 149 national consultations and more than 120 submissions.
 
The Government Commissioned this report, but have failed to give a response.
 
The report has been publicly available since March 2018, but the Government have had a copy since December 2017.
 
The Attorney General has now had nine months to “consider the recommendations”.
 
Meanwhile:
 

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men are 14.7 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

 

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 21.2 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

 

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women now represent 34% of Australia’s female prison population – and 80% of them are mothers.

 

  • The total costs of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2016 were $3.9 billion, with associated costs increasing it to $7.9 billion.

 

  • There have been over 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in Custody since the 1991 Royal Commission.

 
It is not acceptable to ignore this issue.
 
As ALRC Commissioner Judge Matthew Myers said: “Law reform is an important part of that solution. Reduced incarceration, and greater support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in contact with the criminal justice system, will improve health, social and economic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and lead to a safer society for all.”
 
The Government cannot hide behind inquiry after  inquiry – at the expense of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives.
 
Labor also calls on the Government to reconsider its refusal to include justice targets as part of the Closing the Gap Framework – to help reduce incarceration and build safer communities.
 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and our nation deserve better.
 
Labor will deliver better.
 
TUESDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER 2018