Newsletter date: 11 August 2013
* Aboriginal Legal Service of WA: ALSWA supports Greens stance on Justice Reinvestment
* Senator Rachel Siewert: Greens initiative to make WA communities safer and get smart on crime
* Senator Penny Wright: Smarter, safer, stronger - Greens launch criminal justice policy [Featuring Warren H. Williams]
* Gerry Georgatos, The Stringer: Lock'em up culture has to end [Featuring Warren H. Williams]
* Christine Heard, SBS Radio News: Justice reinvestment: an ounce of prevention?
* Debbie Kilroy, The Stringer: Imprisonment - A default response to women's poverty and disadvantage
* John Stewart, ABC Lateline: High Court examines the role of 'background' in sentencing
* Jennifer Macey, ABC PM: Case over Aboriginality in sentencing to begin
* Helen Davidson, The Guardian: Young detainees likely to be kept in adult prison for several months more
* Jim McIlroy, Green Left: Group to reignite deaths in custody fight
* Other Articles on Aboriginal imprisonment
* Let's Talk's Karen Dorante interviews Shane Phillips, CEO of Tribal Warrior Association
* Background to Justice Reinvestment, Aboriginal imprisonment and Aboriginal Deaths in Custody
* ABORIGINAL LEGAL SERVICE OF WA: ALSWA SUPPORTS GREENS STANCE ON JUSTICE REINVESTMENT
- Media Statement
Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia: ALSWA supports Greens stance on Justice Reinvestment
2 Aug 13: "The Aboriginal Legal Service of WA (ALSWA) supports the Greens plan to establish a National Centre for Justice Reinvestment in a bid to end the excessive incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
ALSWA CEO Dennis Eggington said the current justice system had systemically failed Indigenous people dismally and the Government had a responsibility to tackle the crisis at hand.
"I am at a loss to understand why Justice Reinvestment has not been embraced in this country, because it has had so many positive results internationally. The prisons and courts are full of our people and we’ve reached crisis point so this matter needs to be addressed urgently. What’s important to remember is that locking people up in prison doesn’t make communities safer, but a Justice Reinvestment model would create safer communities".
ALSWA has long advocated strongly in support of Justice Reinvestment, ... "
* SENATOR RACHEL SIEWERT: GREENS INITIATIVE TO MAKE WA COMMUNITIES SAFER AND GET SMART ON CRIME
- Media Release
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert: Greens initiative to make WA communities safer and get smart on crime
2 Aug 13: "Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Issues
Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today that a new initiative of Justice Reinvestment was a smart approach to addressing the escalating rates of imprisonment in Western Australia, particularly among Aboriginal Australians.
"The tired mantra of 'tough on crime' is short-sighted and has put huge pressure on budgets. It's also seriously letting down young people in our communities, putting them at risk of life-long exposure to the criminal justice system," Senator Siewert said today.
"The Greens' Justice Reinvestment initiative recognises that it is better to invest in people through funding programs of prevention, early intervention and services in communities. ...
"Current policies of locking people up and forgetting about them does not address the underlying causes, and means that more and more people end up in prison.
"The Australian Greens know we need to be smarter on crime and we need to start immediately. We've now made the commitment to begin putting justice reinvestment into practice in our most vulnerable communities," Senator Siewert concluded."
* SENATOR PENNY WRIGHT: SMARTER, SAFER, STRONGER - GREENS LAUNCH CRIMINAL JUSTICE POLICY [FEATURING WARREN H. WILLIAMS]
- Media Release
Greens Senator Penny Wright: Smarter, safer, stronger - Greens launch criminal justice policy
1 Aug 13: "Spokesperson on legal affairs, Senator Penny Wright, and Greens Senate candidate for the Northern Territory, Warren H Williams, said Justice Reinvestment was a smarter approach to crime and would address escalating rates of imprisonment - particularly among indigenous Australians. ...
Mr Williams said the community-based approach of justice reinvestment would do much more to combat the shameful rates of indigenous incarceration than current top-down government policies.
"For a black person, getting caught for whatever reason most often means going to jail," Mr Williams said. "Our people are shamefully over-represented in jails - more than a quarter of inmates in Australia are blackfellas.
"Once they are in the system, their chances of going back to jail are really high and there’s a wasted life.
"I don’t think it should be normal for Aboriginal kids to know someone in their family who is in jail or has been in jail. ...
"Jail is just a temporary solution to long-term problems. I want to do something about this. I want to stop these statistics and turn them around by addressing the causes." ... "
Greens Senator Penny Wright: Smarter, Safer, Stronger: The Greens' plan for a more effective approach to criminal justice
30 Jul 13: "Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Issues ...
All the major parties have endorsed the data-driven, place-based approach of justice reinvestment but only the Australian Greens have a plan to make reduced crime and improved public safety a reality. We will:
* Invest $10 million over four years to establish a National Centre for Justice Reinvestment
* Fund a Justice Reinvestment Grants Program for pilot programs worth $50 million over four years."
* GERRY GEORGATOS, THE STRINGER: LOCK'EM UP CULTURE HAS TO END [FEATURING WARREN H. WILLIAMS]
- Analysis / Opinion
The Stringer: Lock'em up culture has to end
2 Aug 13: "Central Desert Arrernte man Warren H. Williams has come out hitting hard on the "lock’em up culture" that sees one in seventy of all Aboriginal peoples in prison. The Hermansburg born singer, songwriter is standing for the Australian Greens for a Senate spot from the Northern Territory in the federal election. Mr Williams is exasperated by the NT’s horrific incarceration rates of Aboriginal peoples - 83 per cent of the Territory population is comprised of Aboriginal peoples. Last week, alongside fellow Green, SA’s Senator Penny Wright, he launched the call for crime reduction programs ... " By Gerry Georgatos, a life-long human rights and social justice campaigner, a multi-award winning investigative journalist
* CHRISTINE HEARD, SBS RADIO NEWS: JUSTICE REINVESTMENT: AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION?
SBS Radio News: Justice reinvestment: an ounce of prevention?
By Christine Heard
26 Jul 13: "Can 'justice reinvestment' help reduce incarceration rates? ... For the past 30 years, Australia's prison population has been growing. On any given day, across the nation's 114 jails, around 30,000 criminals are doing time. But the fact is, most of them come from, and return to, a small number of disadvantaged communities. Now, the Federal Government is considering an idea known as 'justice reinvestment' to stop the cycle, as Christine Heard reports."
* DEBBIE KILROY, THE STRINGER: IMPRISONMENT - A DEFAULT RESPONSE TO WOMEN'S POVERTY AND DISADVANTAGE
- Analysis / Opinion
The Stringer: Imprisonment - A default response to women's poverty and disadvantage
29 Jul 13: "Women continue to be imprisoned at an alarming rate. Over the past 10 years, the number of women prisoners in Australia has increased by 48% (compared with a 29% increase amongst men). Increases occurred in all states and territories except the ACT: of particular concern was a massive 300% rise in the number of women prisoners in the Northern Territory and an 84% rise in Western Australia. Continuing a long term trend, in 2012 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were imprisoned at 25 times the rate of non-Indigenous women and almost twice the rate of non-Indigenous men." By Debbie Kilroy, CEO of Sisters Inside, a passionate activist for the implementation and monitoring of human rights within women's prisons
* JOHN STEWART, ABC LATELINE: HIGH COURT EXAMINES THE ROLE OF 'BACKGROUND' IN SENTENCING
ABC Lateline: High Court examines the role of 'background' in sentencing
Reporter: John Stewart
5 Aug 13: "The High Court is to consider the relevance of an Aboriginal person's background in the sentencing of indigenous offenders in relation to the case of William Bugmy who was first jailed at the age of 12 and has spent most of his adult life in prison. ... For the first time in 30 years the High Court will consider the relevance of an Aboriginal person's background in the sentencing of Indigenous offenders. Tomorrow the High Court will consider the case of William Bugmy, an Aboriginal man from the New South Wales country town of Wilcannia."
* JENNIFER MACEY, ABC PM: CASE OVER ABORIGINALITY IN SENTENCING TO BEGIN
ABC PM: Case over Aboriginality in sentencing to begin
5 Aug 13: "For the first time in 30 years the High Court is to consider whether Aboriginality can be used as a defence in sentencing. The court has granted special leave tomorrow to hear the case of William David Bugmy of Dubbo. Mr Bugmy's spent most of his adult life in jail. He was convicted of assaulting a prison officer at the Broken Hill prison in 2011. But at the sentencing appeal the judge ruled that special consideration for Aboriginal background could not be applied to repeat offenders. His lawyers say a person's Aboriginality doesn't diminish over time. Jennifer Macey reports."
- Related News
The Australian: Aboriginal sentencing punishes the victims
2 Aug 13: "THE High Court appeals by the Aboriginal Legal Service in both NSW and Western Australia seek to ensure Aboriginal offenders receive reduced sentences in accordance with the principles developed in R v Fernando (1992). According to this case, systemic deprivation and disadvantage by reason of a person's Aboriginality must be taken into account in sentencing." Hannah McGlade
The Australian: Push to recognise social disadvantage in sentencing
2 Aug 13: "A KEY concession by crown prosecutors that the impacts of social deprivation do not reduce over time has prompted the Human Rights Commission to withdraw its intervention in the High Court case of William David Bugmy. Criminal lawyers in NSW and Western Australia are gearing up for their attempt next week to convince the nation's highest court that any significant history of alcohol-driven social disadvantage should be explicitly taken into account in the sentencing process." Natasha Robinson
* HELEN DAVIDSON, THE GUARDIAN: YOUNG DETAINEES LIKELY TO BE KEPT IN ADULT PRISON FOR SEVERAL MONTHS MORE
- Analysis / Opinion
The Guardian: Young detainees likely to be kept in adult prison for several months more
7 Aug 13: "Security problems delaying transfer of 100 young detainees 'not rocket science', Banksia Hill juvenile centre review finds ... Security problems raised by staff and unions, which have delayed the transfer of more than 100 juvenile detainees still held in a Western Australian adult prison for over six months back to a juvenile detention facility, are "not rocket science" and should be fixed, a review into the juvenile facility has found. The review into a January riot at Banksia Hill juvenile detention centre and the subsequent temporary transfer of the child detainees to Hakea prison found ... " Helen Davidson, a reporter for Guardian Australia
* JIM MCILROY, GREEN LEFT: GROUP TO REIGNITE DEATHS IN CUSTODY FIGHT
Green Left: Group to reignite deaths in custody fight
3 Aug 13: ""Thirty Years But Still No Justice!" was the theme of an Aboriginal deaths in custody forum held in Redfern on July 27. Speakers addressed issues of deaths in custody, victims of police brutality and other social justice concerns. The forum was also the Sydney launch of the National Deaths in Custody Coalition (NDCC), established in February this year to organise for a national day of action on Saturday, September 28 to mark 30 years since the death at police hands of WA Aboriginal youth John Pat in 1983. The meeting was sponsored by the Indigenous Social Justice Association." By Jim McIlroy, GLW author, Sydney
- Related Events
Event: 28 September 2013: Melbourne, Vic
Melbourne - Thirty Years But Still No Justice!
National Day of Action to Stop Aboriginal deaths in custody!
Remember John Pat and the hundreds who have died in custody since!
"Support these demands made by John Pat’s mother, Mavis Pat:
* An apology from the WA government for my son’s death in custody
* An ex-gratia payment as compensation
* That the police officers involved need to be brought to account and
a re-opening of the coronial inquiry into my son’s death ... "
Organised by the Indigenous Social Justice Association - Melbourne
Event details: http://isja-msg.com/coming_events.htm
Event details: http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/54006
Event details: http://indymedia.org.au/2013/05/02/historic-national-stop-deaths-in-cust...
Event details: http://www.facebook.com/events/232079390250476/
Event: Wed 25 September 2013: Parliament House, Perth, WA
Stop Aboriginal Deaths in Custody - National Day of Action
"John Pat died 30 years ago - but still no justice!
Remembrance ceremony - Rally and March.
Apology motion. Parilament House."
Event details: http://www.greenleft.org.au/events/54542
Event details: [scroll down page] http://www.greenleft.org.au/calendar/2013-09/
* OTHER ARTICLES ON ABORIGINAL IMPRISONMENT
SBS Radio News: Call for action on Indigenous imprisonment
By Brianna Roberts
29 Jul 13: "Legal experts are calling on the federal government to set a national target for reducing the rate of Indigenous imprisonment in Australia. Representives from the Law Council of Australia and The Australian Bar Association have just met in Darwin (Friday) to discuss the issue. They're concerned that 'Closing the Gap' government initiatives do not directly deal with justice reform issues. The Law Council's Duncan McConnel told Brianna Roberts the current justice system is letting indigenous Australians down."
- Audio Interview
Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association: Peak legal body describes the NT as the equivalent of the Soviet Unions Gulag
31 Jul 13: "A peak Territory legal body has described the Northern Territory as the equivalent of the Soviet Unions Gulag, with incarceration levels made up predominately of Aboriginal people. ... The North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, the Law Council of Australia and the Australian Bar Association, met in Darwin last week to discuss ways to address the over-representation of Aboriginal and Islander Australians in jails. President of the Northern Territory Bar Association, John Lawrence, says that locking up predominately Aboriginal people does not make our society any safer ... "
newsTracker: NT imprisonment rates reach boiling point
2 Aug 13: "NT: The Northern Territory government’s new web of laws has Darwin jail heading towards a crisis point, a legal expert warns. North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) CEO Priscilla Collins says the NT government’s focus on a tough-on-crime approach has sent the imprisonment rate soaring. "You have so many people overcrowded in there, something’s going to happen," she told AAP. ... Ms Collins says 85 per cent of prisoners at Darwin’s jail are Indigenous. She’s criticised the NT government for locking people up rather than treating the underlying causes of crime." AAP
newsTracker: Call for new focus on indigenous jailing
26 Jul 13: "NT: The Law Council of Australia has chastised state governments for failing to address unacceptably high rates of indigenous people behind bars. Council president Michael Colbran QC says outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders interacting with the criminal justice system are extremely poor. He says indigenous Australians make up about 2.5 per cent of Australia’s population but account for a whopping 26 per cent of the prison population." AAP
The Courier-Mail News: Australians immune to prison problem
1 Aug 13: "THE proportion of indigenous people in jail has doubled in the last 20 years but the question is whether Australians still care. John Lawrence, president of the Northern Territory Bar Association, says that during the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the number of indigenous people in Australian jails was 14 per cent. "In 1989 that was perceived as scandalous and disgraceful," Mr Lawrence told AAP. More than twenty years later, that figure has nearly doubled to 27 per cent." Neda Vanovac
- Analysis / Opinion
The Guardian: Australia, the country where you can be 'too privileged' to go to jail
26 Jul 13: "This is the story of two Australian men, both 27, drunk and in trouble with the law. Their respective treatment neatly encapsulates a tale of two Australias ... The death of Briscoe was the subject of a court inquest into police responsibility for his death. ... the officers brought before the inquest were "formally disciplined" and not charged. Briscoe's family were certainly "extremely devastated" after the finding, and shouted abuse at the police officers as they left court. ... No one needed me to mention that Briscoe was Aboriginal, did they?" Van Badham, a theatre-maker and novelist, occasional broadcaster and critic, feminist, bogan and trollfighter. She lives in Melbourne
* LET'S TALK'S KAREN DORANTE INTERVIEWS SHANE PHILLIPS, CEO OF TRIBAL WARRIOR ASSOCIATION
- Audio Interview
Indigenous radio station 98.9FM Brisbane:
Let's Talk - Shane Phillips
26 Jul 13: "CEO of Tribal Warrior Association http://www.tribalwarrior.org/ "
Listen to this interview on-line:
* BACKGROUND TO JUSTICE REINVESTMENT, ABORIGINAL IMPRISONMENT AND ABORIGINAL DEATHS IN CUSTODY:
Last updated: 22 July 2013
- - -
WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)
About WGAR News:
Subscription to 'WGAR News' is free.
'WGAR News' monitors the media, including alternative media, focusing on:
* the Australian Federal government intervention into Northern Territory (NT) Aboriginal communities;
* the Aboriginal sovereignty movement and the Aboriginal tent embassies;
* Justice Reinvestment, Aboriginal imprisonment and Aboriginal Deaths in Custody;
* Aboriginal land rights and mining;
* Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing;
* other Aboriginal rights issues; and
* upcoming Aboriginal rights events around Australia.
'WGAR News' publishes information and opinions from a wide range of sources.
These opinions expressed are not necessarily the opinions of WGAR.
The e-newsletters include media releases, opinion pieces, news items, audio, videos and events.
Subscribers can expect to receive about 6 e-newsletters each week.
To subscribe, email firstname.lastname@example.org and include the words "subscribe WGAR News" in the message header.
To unsubscribe, email email@example.com and include the words "unsubscribe WGAR News" in the message header.
Sample WGAR News e-newsletters:
- - -
WGAR events postings:
WGAR background info web-pages:
- - -
You can also subscribe to our second list 'Contact WGAR' which provides a point of contact.
To subscribe, email firstname.lastname@example.org and include the words "subscribe WGAR Contact" in the message header.
- - -
WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)