Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia Limited

Justice System Jailing our Children

21June 2011

Dennis_Eggington_ALSWA_CEO_v2MEDIA STATEMENT

JUSTICE SYSTEM JAILING OUR CHILDREN

21st June 2011

The Australian justice system remains in a penal colony mindset, with the rate of Indigenous children being imprisoned continuing to increase.

Aboriginal Legal Service of WA (ALSWA) CEO Dennis Eggington said that a complete overhaul needs to be implemented to ensure that Indigenous children are not further disadvantaged by the current juvenile justice system.

ALSWA says that current WA legislation and the over-policing of Aboriginal people contributes to Indigenous people being 28 times more likely to be imprisoned than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

Mr. Eggington’s comments follow on from the ‘Doing Time – Time for Doing’ Report, tabled last night by the Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.

“It is a national disgrace and totally unacceptable that twenty years on from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) the incarceration rate of our young people is higher now than it was then. As First Nations peoples of this country, we should be afforded the basic human right of having healthy and happy families. Our children and our Communities should not have to continue suffering because of the failures of past and present governments” said Mr. Eggington.

“The current system of jailing our children is failing our children” said Mr. Eggington. “There needs to be a stronger focus on the use of cautions, diversionary programs and justice reinvestment and a greater understanding by law enforcers of the marginalisation faced by Indigenous peoples in day to day society”.

Mr. Eggington urged the government to embrace the opportunity to work with Aboriginal Community members and other key stakeholders within the justice system to ensure that the cycle of despair could be broken. “Without a fresh approach, we will continue to see our kids receive a life sentence through the subsequent institutionalisation which results from early incarceration”.

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