The Queensland Law Society (QLS) has welcomed the news that 13 Murri Courts will be reopened across the state.
Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath recently announced that Rockhampton would be the first of 13 Murri Courts to open across Queensland.
Ms D’Ath said Murri Courts were an important tool in diverting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people from the criminal justice system.
“Murri Courts first began operation in 2002 in response to the disproportionate number of ATSI people who were incarcerated in Queensland jails, but ceased their vital function after being axed by the previous LNP government in 2012,” Ms D’Ath said.
QLS president Bill Potts said reopening Murri Courts across Queensland was a positive step towards reducing the appalling rate of Indigenous imprisonment across the state.
Federal Productivity Commission figures from 2013-14 show the number of Indigenous Australians imprisoned was 16 times higher than non-Indigenous people.
“Statistics show that it costs more to incarcerate a person for five years than it would to send them to one of Queensland’s best universities. I know how I’d rather my taxes be spent," Mr Potts said.
“Courts like the Murri Court and the Drug Court have been successful in reducing re-offending and incarceration, and it is good to see them on the way back in Queensland."
Mr Potts said it was time for the state and federal governments to set “aspirational targets" to reduce incarceration of Indigenous Australians and implement strategies and policies to guarantee positive outcomes.