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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2865 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

I agree that the statistics stated in the ACT Community Advocate's annual report represent an overrepresentation of indigenous peoples at Quamby. However, it is important to look at these percentages in real numbers. The some 29 occurrences of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody in the period January to March 1998 referred to in the Community Advocate's report represent 14 young Aboriginal individuals. The total in custody on remand in that period was 64. During the same period there was one young Aboriginal person in custody serving a lengthy sentence, out of a total of 10 young people under sentence. Therefore, while the percentages stated in the ACT Community Advocate's annual report were quite high, the actual numbers of indigenous youth either on remand or in residence were quite low. What the actual numbers represent is that a number of indigenous people at Quamby are repeat offenders rather than a large number of the indigenous community. In other words, there is a small number of people who are repeat offenders.

In addressing the second part of Mr Wood's question, the ACT Government is committed to developing programs and strategies that will address the key social, economic and cultural issues that affect indigenous people, as outlined in the ACT Government's implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report 1996-97.

For the interest of the Assembly, I am very happy to go through all of that. As obviously Mr Wood wants me to do that, I will do so. It is going to take a while. Within my department, that is the Chief Minister's Department, the Office of Business Development and Tourism has established an indigenous employment program in the sport and recreation and the arts and cultural heritage industries. The objective of this program is to establish six trainees in each industry, bringing the total of trainees to 12. The program will improve the relative position of indigenous people, particularly indigenous youth in terms of employment, by preparing, placing and helping train indigenous people in sustainable jobs.

Also within my department, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues Unit has, for the first time, a full complement of staff, all of whom are indigenous. The key issues for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues Unit include native title, reconciliation activities, deaths in custody, the Bringing them home report, the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Centre and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Consultative Council.

Mr Humphries' department, the Department of Justice and Community Safety, is currently establishing an Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee, the AJAC. The role of the AJAC will be to develop and implement a comprehensive Aboriginal justice strategic plan as agreed by all States and Territories at last year's Ministerial Summit on Indigenous Deaths in Custody. The department has provided ongoing administrative support for the Aboriginal interview friends call-out roster, with an additional eight people who have completed the first part of the training course this year and are now participating on the roster. The Australian Federal Police has recently appointed a local indigenous person as their Aboriginal liaison officer.

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