As representatives of the legal sector in NSW, we call upon the Australian and NSW governments to recognise and address the shameful incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the most incarcerated people in the world, by percentage of population (2,346 per 100,000).
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 24 per cent of the total prison population in NSW and 27 per cent of prisoners in Australia. This is despite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people representing just 2.8 per cent of the total NSW population and 2.5 per cent of the total Australian population.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are the fastest growing cohort of those imprisoned, accounting for 34 per cent of women imprisoned in Australia.
Since the final report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991, the imprisonment rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has worsened. Inquiry after inquiry has found that our criminal laws disproportionately impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It’s time for change.
The Australian and NSW Governments must, as a matter of urgency, work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to identify service gaps and barriers to access to justice. This should include provision of adequate funding for culturally appropriate legal assistance and interpreter services.
This includes implementing more culturally-appropriate early intervention and prevention programs that address the complex legal and non-legal issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including housing, disability, mental health, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and family violence.
As a first step, we the undersigned urge the swift and coordinated governmental action to implement the recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Inquiry into Incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
Sincerely (as of 28 May 2018)
ORGANISATIONSThe Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACTCommunity Legal Centres NSWThe Law Society of NSWKingsford Legal CentreNSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS)Just Reinvest NSWKinchela Boys Home Aboriginal CorporationDomestic Violence NSWNSW Council for Civil LibertiesAmnesty International, Australia
Centre for Crime, Law & Justice UNSW National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC)Illawarra Legal CentreFar West Community Legal CentreHunter Community Legal CentreNational Children and Youth Law CentreMid North Coast Community Legal CentreInner City Legal CentreAustralian Pro Bono CentrePublic Interest Advocacy Centre
Women's Legal Service NSWRedfern Legal CentreAnimal Defenders OfficeWestern NSW Community Legal Centre Justice ConnectTenants' Union of NSWShoalcoast Community Legal CentreMacquarie University Social Justice ClinicMacarthur Legal CentreImmigration Advice & Rights Centre (IARC)
Marrickville Legal CentreRefugee Advice & Casework Service (Australia)Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal CentreNorthern Rivers Community Legal CentreAdvocacy Law Alliance Disability Advocacy NSWCentre for Law and Justice, Charles Sturt UniversityAboriginal Drug & Alcohol Council SA Aboriginal CorporationUniversity of Newcastle Legal CentreMonongo Support Services
Penrith Women's Health CentreWomen's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service NSWWarrina Domestic and Family Violence Speacilist ServicesCoast ShelterCarrie's Place Domestic Violence and Homelessness ServicesRape & Domestic Violence Services Australia Domestic Violence Service Management (DVSM)Salvation ArmyWestern NSW Community Legal CentreHomelessness NSW
Arts Law Centre of AustraliaHIV/AIDS Legal CentreWelfare Rights CentreFinancial Rights Legal CentreUniting Aboriginal & Islander Christian Congress NSW/ACTWirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women's Legal Centre
INDIVIDUALSDoug Humpreys - President, Law Society of NSW Jonathon Hunyor - CEO, Public Interest AdvoBronwyn Ambrogetti - Managing Solicitor, Hunter Community Legal CentreMitchell S Harvey - Solicitor, Hunter Community Legal CentreKathrina BalstonRae Fiechter - Office Manager, Central Coast Community Legal CentreKimbah Pengelly - Solicitor, Northern Rivers Community Legal CentreJanet Osborne - Lawyer, Hume Riverina Community Legal ServiceJulia Adamski - Solicitor, Western NSW Community Legal CentreBeth Simpson - Lawyer, Hume Riverina Community Legal Centre
Paul Smyth - Residential Parks Solicitor, Tenants' Union of NSWAmy GriffithsRebecca Simon - Aboriginal Legal Access Worker, Illawarra Legal CentreAnita WillKaren Bowley - Community Lawyer, Hume Riverina Community Legal ServiceNajette AlaraibiNed CooperJames Leaver - BarristerThomas Woods - BarristerJacqueline Rozario - JD Law Student
Duhita Lewsi - volunteer, Hunter Community Legal CentreTim Hammond - barrister, Samuel Griffiths ChambersChris Cunneen - Professor of Criminology, Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and ResearchTony Nikolic - solicitorDavid Turner - president, NSW Young LawyersJanette PritchardEdward Wilkes - Associate ProfessorChristine PaulinichMelanie Schwartz, Senior Lecturer, UNSW LawLarissa Andelman - solicitor
Richard Battley - Barrister-At-Law, Sir Samuel Griffith ChambersMoo Baulch - CEO, Domestic Violence NSWTracy McLeod Howe - CEO, NSW Council of Social ServiceKajhal McIntyre - Legal Researcher, Rape & Domestic Violence Services AustraliaJodi Burnstein - Barnardos AustraliaRenata Field - Director, Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy ServiceShayne Silvers - Operations Manager, Coast ShelterKaren WillisEmma Wood - Coordinator, Shoalcoast Community CentreAlexandra Payne-Baggs
Millie IngramAlexandra Rose - BarristerSharyn Hall - Barrister, Samuel Griffith Chambers