Nation-leading target to end disproportionate Indigenous incarceration rate by 2030, as Greens pledge $20m

Australian Greens

A nation-leading, ambitious target to end the disproportionate Indigenous incarceration rate by 2030 is a key feature of the ACT Greens $20 million Justice Reinvestment package, announced today.

While crime rates are going down, incarceration rates are going up. A growing population, together with more awareness around domestic, family and sexual assault, are part of the story. More effective policing, reduced rates of bail, social issues like unemployment, poverty and family trauma, particularly among young offenders, also have an impact. The Greens don’t believe we can-in good conscience-maintain the status quo.

We have recently seen the government commit to the Greens approach to justice of reducing recidivism (reoffending) by 25 percent by 2025 – but we need more funding for targeted and specific action to support First Nations peoples.

That’s why the Greens are taking the smarter approach to the criminal justice system, accelerating our nation-leading Justice Reinvestment commitments with a $20 million package for the next four years.

Justice Reinvestment is a community-focussed, evidence-led approach that shifts funds away from building bigger prisons and instead invests in vulnerable communities to address underlying causes of crime and keep our community safer, over the long term.

Bringing Indigenous incarceration rates to parity by 2030

The ACT Greens today have committed to bringing Indigenous incarceration rates in line with non-Indigenous incarceration rates by 2030.

This is an ambitious target that extends beyond the current national ‘Closing the Gap’ target which aims for a 15 per cent reduction in over-representation by 2031 – which would mean only achieving parity by 2093.

For too long, the ACT – like the rest of Australia – has seen appallingly high rates of Indigenous incarceration. It is a persistent and growing problem, with incarceration rates increasing by 51 per cent across Australia between 2012 and 2018 and the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-indigenous imprisonment rates widening. We also know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are overrepresented as victims of crime.

As part of a larger package totalling $20 million over four years, the ACT Greens will accelerate our investments in a range of new and existing Justice Reinvestment programs, such as the Ngurraambai Bail Support Program; the ACT Government’s Justice Housing Program; the ACT’s Drug and Alcohol Court; and the ‘Yarrabi Bamirr‘ family-centred program.

As stated by ACT Greens leader and spokesperson for Justice, Shane Rattenbury:

“Meeting this target will be a challenge-but the status quo simply isn’t good enough. We can, and must, do more to tackle the disproportionate rate of Indigenous incarceration here in the ACT. It is a blight on our collective conscience that even in a human rights jurisdiction like the ACT, this should be the case.

“Justice Reinvestment means acknowledging that some members of our community are significantly more likely to be incarcerated. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are disproportionately represented across the justice system. This is often compounded by social economic issues, combined with the effects of intergenerational trauma, disenfranchisement, colonisation and structural racism. Vulnerable groups, including young people, those with minimal education and mental health concerns are also over-represented.

“With the right supports in place, we can help change the trajectories of those coming in and out of the prison system. In the ACT, we have been witness to increases far beyond what should be possible in a city-state as well-resourced and inclusive as ours.

“We must do things differently if we want a different outcome. As Justice Minister, I have been pleased to get this work underway. However, if we are to achieve this target, we must see the entire Government – from health to education, and housing to police and emergency services – truly commit to working together to tackle Indigenous incarceration rates.

“The Greens will invest in Justice Reinvestment, making our community stronger and safer.”

Read the full package at: greens.org.au/act/building-safer-communities

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