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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 February 2021) . . Page.. 298 ..


At the last election the Greens took a policy that we wanted to see parity between the rate of incarceration of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. As we have spoken about today, it is far higher for First Nations Australians. I think having that goal of parity by 2030 is extremely ambitious, but that is the goal we should set for ourselves because the current situation is not an acceptable one. That therefore requires concerted effort across a range of areas. There is no single answer to address this problem. It is a series of deliberate decisions, deliberate efforts and deliberate investment to make sure that we turn things around for the First Nations people of our community.

There are, of course, already a number of programs in place that, I think, are proving effective, that have often, though, been in trial stages and now need to be scaled up. Certainly, in my new role as the Attorney-General, I look forward to seeking to continue to get funding directed toward these programs and to seeing the ones that have been successful scaled up. Regarding the ones where, perhaps, some things are not right, we should be willing to put those to one side and try new initiatives.

I think these are the sorts of things that will continue to come from engagement with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, where the feedback comes, where the programs that are working get supported and where people have new ideas, or new players who come into the scene get an opportunity to trial new things.

There are a range of programs that I could talk about that I think are having an impact, but I will touch on just a few because I think they illustrate the sorts of initiatives that we need to take: ones that have been supported by the community and do make a difference, programs like the Ngurrambai bail support program, where we seek to make sure that people develop plans to address their immediate needs and set goals to assist compliance. We see that a range of justice procedure offences often result in people either breaching their bail or ending up back in custody and getting further entrenched in the justice system.

This is matched with the Front-Up program, which is a program to assist First Nations people with outstanding warrants or who have breached bail or a community-based sentence order, to assist them to present in court and negotiate to resolve the matter while trying to avoid custody. These are both programs that have been operating for a number of years now and really focus on making sure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people do not end up in custody. These are the sorts of investments we should be making to keep people out of the Alexander Maconochie Centre, to help them meet the conditions of their bail, or to simply not end up with those sorts of justice procedure offences which are a real trigger for people getting more and more entrenched in the justice system.

Another program which I think has been very successful is the Yarrabi Bamirr program. This is a partnership predominantly led by the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services which seeks to target families who are at risk of involvement with the criminal justice system.


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