An Albanese Labor Government will commit $79 million to expand justice reinvestment initiatives across the country and help turn the tide on incarceration and deaths in custody.
Over 500 First Nations Australians have died in custody since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody more than 30 years ago. Rates of First Nations incarceration and deaths in custody are unacceptably high across the country.
Labor’s landmark funding commitment for justice reinvestment will enable up to 30 communities to establish locally tailored initiatives that address the underlying causes of incarceration and deaths in custody.
Existing community-led justice reinvestment models, such as those in Bourke and Halls Creek, have proven successful in reducing incarceration and re-offending by providing targeted supports and services in their communities.
To support these efforts, Labor will also establish an independent national justice reinvestment unit, as recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission. The unit will assist communities to develop and evaluate justice reinvestment initiatives, ensuring valuable lessons can be learned and shared across the country.
Labor will provide $13.5 million in specific, standalone funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services to ensure First Nations families who have lost a loved one in custody can access culturally appropriate, timely and fair legal assistance before, during and after all coronial processes.
It is critical that the voices of families and First Nations communities are heard in these processes in order to prevent deaths in custody and secure lasting change.
Labor will also invest $1 million to build capacity and support the leadership of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS), the representative peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services. This funding will support NATSILS’ important contribution to law reform and policy development to address inequalities in the legal system.
Labor will restore $3 million in funding to support the work of the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum (the Forum). The Forum works in collaboration with Family Violence Prevention Legal Services across the country to increase access to justice for First Nations people experiencing or at risk of family violence, especially women and children.
The Morrison Government cut direct funding to the Forum in 2020. Labor’s commitment would reverse this decision, supporting the Forum’s role in ensuring that the voices of First Nations women and children are heard.
Labor will establish consolidated real-time reporting of First Nations deaths in custody at a national level.
In government, Labor will convene a national summit bringing together First Nations and state and territory representatives to ensure coordinated action on First Nations deaths in custody.