ACT initiates independent review on First Nations over-representation in the justice system

A First Nations consultancy will lead the review process

ACT initiates independent review on First Nations over-representation in the justice system

The ACT government has commissioned an independent review to assess its progress in implementing recommendations aimed at addressing the over-representation of First Nations people in the justice system.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advocates have called for a review or inquiry into the over-representation of First Nations people in the justice system. Despite ongoing efforts, Indigenous individuals remain over-represented in the ACT criminal justice system. The government recognises the urgent need to address this issue in collaboration with the Indigenous community.

The government has committed to engage an independent consultant to evaluate the government's implementation of recommendations from the Australian Law Reform Commission's Report 133, Pathways to Justice - Inquiry into the Incarceration Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

The review is expected to provide recommendations for further practical measures that can significantly reduce over-representation rates and enhance the experience of First Nations individuals interacting with the justice system. A First Nations consultancy will lead the review process, engaging with communities, including those who have firsthand experience with the ACT criminal justice system.

The government said that it was committed to establishing a fair and equitable justice system that benefits all members of the community; concurrently, it continues to invest in initiatives targeting the over-representation issue, with $11m allocated through the 2022-23 Budget for programs focused on addressing the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The government plans to seek feedback from local First Nations community organisations regarding the proposed terms of reference for the independent review. An interim report is expected by March 2024, followed by a final report later that year, allowing the government to provide an initial response during the 2024-25 Budget.

This timeline would also enable the review to support ACT engagement in the Justice Policy Partnership under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

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