Rodney Dillon here. I’m an Aboriginal man from Tasmania and I work as an Indigenous Rights Advisor at Amnesty.
We launched our Community is Everything campaign in 2015 because we don’t want to see Indigenous kids locked up anymore. We want to see them living in happy, healthy communities, finishing school, getting good jobs and becoming community leaders.
What needs to happen?
The Australian Government must reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids in detention around the country.
At the moment these kids are massively over-represented in the Australian justice system. This needs to change – if we’re about fairness and equality, then a fair go for all kids is a priority.
How will our Community is Everything campaign help?
With your support we can make a difference to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids across Australia. During the next five years, we’ll be working hard to make this a campaign that politicians at the state and federal levels can’t ignore.
What do we want?
1. More Indigenous-led solutions available for kids
We’ll work to ensure:
- government support and funding for the courageous, hard-working Indigenous people already working to support families so that fewer kids get into trouble in the first place
- judges have the option to work with and rehabilitate kids instead of locking them up.
2. A fairer youth justice system
We’ll work to make sure the government addresses the faulty parts of our justice system and creates practical circuit breakers that stop Indigenous kids ending up in detention, such as:
- setting justice targets to close the gap in detention rates
- better collection and use of data on how many Indigenous kids are being locked up
- changing laws that have unintended and negative consequences for Indigenous kids and prevent judges from properly doing their job
- ending inhumane treatment of kids in detention
- making sure our laws comply with international legal obligations such as the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the rights of the Child
Have we had any success yet?
At the end of 2015…
- The Australian Senate passes a motion supporting our call for change in the justice space, developed in partnership with the Change the Record coalition.
We kicked goals in 2016…
- April: The Australian Senate passes a motion calling for national justice targets to close the gap on the imprisonment rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- May: Australia’s top judge publicly calls for action on family violence and Indigenous prison rates.
- June: the QLD government passes two Bills to protect children’s rights and keep kids out of the criminal justice system.
- July: A proposal by the NT government to change bail laws to send more children — some as young as 10 — into pre-trial detention by default fails to gain the support of MPs.
- August: The QLD government announces an independent review into the state’s youth detention centres. We launch our full report Heads Held High: Keeping Queensland kids out of detentions, strong in culture and community.
- September: QLD announces a proposal to transfer 17-year-olds out of prisons, sparing them the harsher adult prison conditions and reducing their chances of re-offending. Spoiler: the legislation passes in November. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also puts youth justice on the agenda of the next Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting.
- October: The use of brutal restraint chairs on children in detention is banned in the NT. The state also appoints their first ever Minister for Youth Justice.
- November: HUGE news. The QLD government commits to a Human Rights Act which means they must take human rights into account when making all major decisions.
…And it doesn’t end there. Our campaigners, activists and supporters are working hard to keep up the momentum in 2017. We’ll keep you updated!
Working with Indigenous people
Indigenous people in Australia have been fighting for their rights for over 200 years now. Thanks to their resilience and hard work, we’ve made progress, but we’re still not there.
Amnesty asked Indigenous people how we could support and build on the vital campaigning work that Indigenous people have already done. The answer? Help Indigenous young people. That is the foundation of our Community is Everything campaign – research and plans developed under the guidance of the Indigenous community.
Learn more about our campaign
Want to know more about our research into keeping kids in communities and out of detention? Our reports are a great way to get in depth knowledge of the conflict and its impact.
- A brighter tomorrow: Keeping Indigenous kids in the community and out of detention in Australia
- ‘There is always a brighter future’: Keeping Indigenous kids in the community and out of detention in Western Australia
- Heads Held High: Keeping Queensland kids out of detentions, strong in culture and community
Take action today
Want to help keep kids out of detention and in their communities? Take that first step by signing our petition calling for national justice targets to close the gap in imprisonment rates.