While this announcement brings us closer to getting national justice targets to secure equality for Indigenous kids, we must continue to act.
On Tuesday 19 April the Australian Senate passed a motion calling for the adoption of justice targets to close the gap on the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Friday 15 April 2016 marked 25 years since a Royal Commission handed down recommendations to reduce imprisonment and prevent Aboriginal deaths in custody.
The following Tuesday, the Australian Senate passed the motion, which called on the Commonwealth and state and territory governments to:
- implement in full the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
- adopt justice targets in order to close the gap and to change the record on the rates of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
How did Amnesty act?
In the lead up to the anniversary of The Royal Commission and prior to this motion, Amnesty supporters took action in every way possible (email, post, fax, phone, in person and through social media) to say enough is enough: we need national targets to close the justice gap.
Here’s just a taste of some of our powerful activism in the lead up to the anniversary.
- Amnesty staff and supporters called their local, state and federal MPs; together we made more than 100 calls to over 75 state and federal leaders.
- We collected 12,000 petition signatures and faxed them over to our Prime Minister and state leaders.
- Over the last month activists have sent over 80 personal emails/letters to federal MPs asking them to call on Turnbull to implement national justice targets.
- Our online activists sent an avalanche of tweets and Facebook messages to MPs for #justicetargets.
- The Goulburn Valley (VIC) and Southern Group (TAS) had Letters to the Editors published in their local papers.
All our great momentum added to the national debate led by Indigenous people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – and Indigenous-led solutions – dominated the media all week, including on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald.
About the Royal Commission
The deaths in custody of six children were among the 99 investigated as part of this Royal Commission, with the findings published in 1991.
The fundamental issue identified was that Aboriginal people die in custody at a rate which is totally unacceptable. This occurs because too many Aboriginal people are in custody, too often.
The Royal Commission highlighted that there was an urgent need for governments to work together and negotiate with Indigenous organisations to develop strategies to reduce the involvement of Indigenous kids in the justice system.
Our research shows they haven’t. This is one of the key reasons why we continue to act through our Community is Everything campaign.
While great steps have been taken, the Senate motion is not binding – our government could still ignore this call.
Our leaders will continue to do nothing, unless we hold them accountable. We are asking Amnesty supporters to keep pushing all of our leaders to set national justice targets as part of the Closing the Gap strategy.
They need to recognise their failure, come to the table at COAG and agree that this is a priority and needs coordinated national action over the next generation to ensure that all kids have the opportunity to reach their limitless potential.
We can’t fail another generation of Indigenous kids. Let your leader know that you care about Indigenous lives.