To help reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT’s criminal justice system, the ACT Government will allocate $11.5 million over four years to fund a coordinated program of initiatives in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.
The 2022-23 ACT Budget supports new initiatives to make a real and immediate impact and continues established programs that have demonstrated positive results.
- Providing culturally appropriate support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in police custody through the Interview Friends program
- Ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can have their day in court in a timely matter by increasing the sitting days of the Galambany Circle Sentencing Court
- Expansion of the pilot program that provides culturally appropriate sites for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to report while on community corrections orders or parole to include additional sites and support bail reporting;
- Working with families to support better life outcomes through an expansion of the Yarrabi Bamirr program
- Supporting ex-detainees to reconnect with Country and community through the On Country and Empowerment Yarning Circles program
- Assisting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who find it difficult to obtain bail with the continuation of the Ngurrambai Bail Support Program
- Introduction of a one-on-one intensive case management pilot program for a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees
- A new program to assess people at the Alexander Maconochie Centre for cognitive disability
Quotes attributable to Chief Minister, Andrew Barr:
The Government has heard the strong calls from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community for additional support to address the over incarceration of First Nations people in the ACT.
The Government has committed to reduce the incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to match non-Indigenous incarceration rates by 2030 and reduce recidivism in the ACT by 25 per cent by 2025.
Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury:
It’s important, in the administration justice, to recognise the disadvantages and challenges facing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and to support and work with the community to help reduce incarceration.
The ACT justice system is significantly more likely to arrest, prosecute and jail First Nations people than non-indigenous people. Many traditional justice system features are not designed with the needs of First Nations people in mind – whether it’s not having any culturally appropriate support during police custody, or no alternative and culturally appropriate bail reporting options, or not being provided the opportunity to reconnect with family and community.
That is why, from conversations with the community, we have developed a suite of new and continuing programs to rebuild trust in the justice system. Collectively these programs take steps to address the challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the different stages of their experience with the justice system - at time of arrest, in the courts, while on community orders, while in detention and at the time of transition back to the community.
These are a few important first steps towards the ACT Government reducing the incarceration rate of First Nations women and men to match non-indigenous people by 2030, and they are measures that will improve outcomes for the whole ACT community.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Corrections Mick Gentleman:
These investments reflect the ACT Government’s continuing commitment to improving the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system, with a focus on setting them up for success when they return to the community.
People with lived experience of the criminal justice system told us they frequently struggled to navigate the justice system while they were in it, as well as other government systems and services when they returned to the community. That’s why I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the difference the new intensive case management pilot program for detainees in the Alexander Maconochie Centre will make. We also feel confident that the cognitive disability screening program at Alexander Maconochie Centre will help us better support those who may benefit from extra adjustments while in the justice system.
These programs are another step forward for the ACT Government in working together with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to reduce Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration and recidivism.