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Time for change on incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

    
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 MEDIA RELEASE 

19 July 2017 

Time for change on incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 

Community Legal Centres NSW, peak body for community legal centres in NSW, today welcomed Australian Law Reform Commission’s opening of submissions for the inquiry into the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

Information about the inquiry

“Recommendations from the Australian Law Reform Commission historically have a high take-up rate, over 80 per cent, making this inquiry a real potential stepping stone to reducing the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in this country,” Community Legal Centres NSW Chair Dr Linda Tucker said. 

“Aboriginal women are the fastest growing group in NSW prisons. They represent around 2.5 per cent of the NSW population, yet 29.4 per cent of women in prison. The imprisonment of Aboriginal women has significant impact on the number of children in Out of Home Care, on homelessness levels, and on the criminal justice system,” she said. 

“Community Legal Centres NSW and our member organisations will be advocating for law reform in a number of crucial areas. This includes the need for alternative pathways to imprisonment, moving away from mandatory sentencing, and an end to incarcerating people for not paying fines. 

“The relationship between police and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is also crucial in this area. This means police considering alternatives to arrest, engaging in proactive policing and taking a more flexible approach to bail conditions. 

“At the same time, we need to provide safe and stable housing for people trying to reintegrate into the community, support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cognitive disabilities and a whole of government effort to reduce systemic racism. 

“This inquiry will take into account decades of reports, inquiries and actions plans in this area, with a view to providing a series of recommendations that can and will be taken up by the government. 

“CLCNSW are committed to the principles of justice resolution, reinvestment and realignment, and we look forward to engaging productively with the inquiry,” Dr Tucker said. 

Media contact: Mark Riboldi (mark.riboldi@clcnsw.org.au) for Linda Tucker

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