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National mood for change on Indigenous incarceration must be seized by COAG – The Law Council of Australia

The Law Council of Australia has called on the Federal and State Governments to act on Australia’s disastrous rate of Indigenous imprisonment, following recent positive steps in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Earlier this week, the Northern Territory Government announced plans to set justice targets, to halve the rate of Aboriginal imprisonment by 2030, while Western Australia will establish a new 1800 hotline for Aboriginal prisoners in Western Australia, which will help to reduce instances of self-harm and suicide in custody. Law Council of Australia President Stuart Clark AM called on the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to seize the opportunity for intergovernmental action.

“Australia’s Indigenous incarceration rates represent a national crisis. Justice targets and an intergovernmental strategy on imprisonment and community violence must be on the agenda at the next COAG meeting,” 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. This cannot be allowed to continue.

“Until governments commit to targets and genuine, evidence-based measures, Indigenous incarceration will continue to grow,” Mr Clark said.

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