COAG must seize opportunity for action on imprisonment and violence rates.


The Change the Record Coalition  is urging Federal, State and Territory Governments to show leadership, and commit to developing national justice targets when COAG meets this Friday. The Prime Minister has noted that youth justice will be on the agenda and Change the Record is calling for measurable targets to be set to reduce over-imprisonment, and high rates of violence experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children.

Co-Chair Shane Duffy said, “The over-representation of our people in the criminal justice system, and high rates of violence being experienced, is both cause and effect for the poor state of health, education and employment outcomes of so many of our families and communities.”

“Tomorrow’s COAG meeting presents Federal, State and Territory governments with a critical opportunity to work together to tackle these issues head on.”

“The safer communities ‘building block’ remains the only area of the ‘Closing the Gap’ strategy without targets attached. National justice targets - aimed at ending violence against our women and children, and reducing the over-imprisonment of our people - must be set and implemented as a matter of urgency” said Mr Duffy.

Currently, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are around 13 times more likely to incarcerated. And the situation is even worse for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people who are 24 times more likely to be imprisoned than their non-Indigenous counterparts. At the same time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised for family violence related assault, and almost 10 times more likely to die from violent assault than non-Indigenous women.

Co-Chair Antoinette Braybrook said, “Until governments commit to a whole-of-government approach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children will continue to be disproportionately impacted by family violence. We need immediate and concrete action by all Australian governments.”

“Of particular concern is the high numbers of our young people ending up in detention, and the interrelationship with child protection and family violence rates.  We need all levels of government to work together and commit to justice reinvestment approaches, and greater investment in early intervention and prevention initiatives, which aim to support families and prevent our people from coming into contact with the justice system in the first place.”

The Change the Record Coalition is calling for:

  • The setting of national justice targets (focused on both violence and incarceration rates) and a nationally co-ordinated whole-of-government approach;
  • A commitment to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, their organisations and representative bodies, to support the identification and development of place-based ‘justice reinvestment’ sites;
  • More support for early intervention, prevention and diversion programs;
  • Raising the Age of Criminal responsibility to at least 12 years; and
  • Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), to ensure proper and independent monitoring mechanisms are in place to prevent the mistreatment of people in all places of detention.

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Shannon Longhurst for Shane Duffy and Antoinette Braybrook
ph: 0409 711 061 /