find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Legal bodies welcome Indigenous incarceration inquiry

Legal bodies welcome Indigenous incarceration inquiry

Three legal organisations have voiced their support for the federal government’s decision to ask the Australian Law Reform Commission to launch an Indigenous incarceration inquiry.

At the Victorian Bar 2016 National Legal Conference in Melbourne last week, the Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC announced a national law reform commission on Indigenous incarceration, which will consider law reform measures to tackle Indigenous imprisonment rates.

“Let us consider the scope and magnitude of the problem. In April we marked 25 years since the publication of the final report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody,” Mr Brandis said.

“Yet it is clear that after a quarter of a century and countless policy initiatives, a great deal of public discussion and immense public goodwill, nevertheless many of the disturbing trends upon which the royal commission shone light persist.”

Mr Brandis noted that when the report was published in 1991 Indigenous Australians represented 14 per cent of Australia’s prison population. Today they make up 27 per cent and are 16 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Indigenous Australians.

Further, Indigenous children and teenagers are 24 times more likely to be incarcerated than their non-Indigenous peers, while Indigenous women are 30 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Indigenous women.

“Those statistics of course paint a stark picture – a picture of failed initiatives and flawed or incomplete reform efforts which, despite the best intentions, often deliver little by way of tangible progress – and indeed, as those statistics reveal, we have gone backwards,” Mr Brandis said before announcing the inquiry request.

The Australian Bar Association (ABA), the Law Council of Australia (LCA) and the Law Society of Western Australia have all thrown their support behind the decision.

“The over-representation of Indigenous people incarcerated is a national disgrace and this announcement of an [inquiry] is a significant opportunity to make informed and practical changes that address this problem and deliver better justice outcomes for Indigenous Australians and the country as a whole,” said Patrick O’Sullivan QC, president of the ABA.

“Australia’s Indigenous incarceration rate is one of the most challenging human rights issues facing our country today and one that has been of deep concern to the Australian Bar Association. [The] announcement is a positive and necessary step towards addressing one of Australia’s most alarming issues.”

The president of the LCA, Stuart Clark AM, said the government’s decision to refer Indigenous incarceration to the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) was timely and important.

“For far too long Australia has failed to address Indigenous incarceration with sufficient urgency. This is nothing short of a national catastrophe,” Mr Clark said.

“Indigenous people represent just 2.5 per cent of the population, but 27 per cent of the prison population. Indigenous children represent 50 per cent of those in juvenile detention.”

Mr Clark said the LCA will offer suggestions to assist the development of the terms of reference to the ALRC’s inquiry and the issue will remain an ongoing priority for the Law Council in 2017 and beyond.

Law Society of Western Australia president Elizabeth Needham said: “The announcement of the ALRC inquiry is a welcome development and a crucial first step in confronting an issue that frankly shames our nation.”

Ms Needham pointed to statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which reveal that Western Australia has the highest rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment in the country, with 3,663.5 prisoners per 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults.

“The conclusions and recommendations that ultimately emerge from the ALRC's inquiry must be followed by tangible actions on the part of governments and other stakeholders,” Ms Needham said.

“It is vital that we invest in early intervention, prevention and diversion strategies to address the root causes of offending [and] reoffending, and cut imprisonment rates.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Legal bodies welcome Indigenous incarceration inquiry
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Papua New Guinea flag
Dec 14 2017
World-first mining case launched in PNG
Citizens of Papua New Guinea have launched landmark legal proceedings against the country’s govern...
Dec 14 2017
Punishing offenders twice pointless, politicians warned
The president of the Law Society of NSW has warned legislators from other states about adopting cont...
Dec 13 2017
Young humanitarian lawyer California-bound
A young Australian lawyer will be travelling to the US next year for a prestigious nine-month study ...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...