31 March 2015 | Community Announcements
Twelve Indigenous and legal organisations have sent an open letter to the Western Australian government urging it not to pass a controversial Bill that would likely see an increase to the already over-represented number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in detention.
The organisations have called on WA Premier Colin Barnett, WA Attorney-General Michael Mischin and WA Minister for Police Liza Harvey to withdraw the Criminal Law Amendment (Home Burglary and Other Offences) Bill 2014, or at least amend it so it doesn’t apply to children.
The organisations are united in their condemnation of the bill, which they say “expands the mandatory sentencing regime in Western Australia, including for 16–17-year-olds. This will adversely affect Aboriginal young people who are already massively over-represented in the justice system. In 2013-2014 Indigenous young people made up 78.3 per cent of all young people in detention in Western Australia, and were 53 times more likely to be in detention than non-Indigenous young people.”
The letter is signed by:
- Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia (Inc)
- Amnesty International Australia
- Australian Lawyers Alliance (WA)
- Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
- Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR)
- Civil Liberties Australia
- Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of Western Australia Inc
- Just Reinvest NSW
- Mens Outreach Service
- Mowanjum Aboriginal Corporation
- National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS)
- Western Australian Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (WANADA)
“A dozen organisations across Australia have spoken with one voice, calling on the WA Government to live up to its promise to reduce the rates of Indigenous people in prison, and adopt a smarter approach to community safety,” said Julian Cleary, Indigenous Campaigner at Amnesty International Australia.
Amnesty International Australia has provided a copy of the open letter, as well as a media release that provides an overview of the letter’s content.