Experts call for new approach to Indigenous incarceration

One expert is calling for the justice system to take Indigenous health into consideration.

NATILS chair Shane Duffy took to ABC’s Lateline last night campaigning for lower rates of Indigenous incarceration.

According to reports, the behaviour of mental illness sufferers is left to police to deal with due to a lack of access to healthcare, particularly in rural communities, despite the latest figures showing that the federal government spends 1.5 times the money on Indigenous health than it does on other Australians.

But the justice system should be taking health issues into account during court proceedings.

“The challenges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face may be similar but they are also different from the cultural nuances compared to mainstream Australia,” Duffy told Lateline.

“The policing methodology in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country has been more about ‘lock them up and throw away the key’.  We continuously see governments winning elections based off law and order agendas and incarcerations.  What we need to do is look at a new, smarter approach to ensuring we have safer communities across the country.”

Lateline’s Emma Alberici cited a report stating that people with disabilities from disadvantaged backgrounds are left to police to manage behaviour. The report said this happens even more frequently for Indigenous Australians.

“We find that instead of the justice system dealing with them in relation to their health challenges and their lives, what I’m saying is that the reasons they come to the attention of the justice system, what they actually deal with is from a criminal justice perspective and that’s locking people up for long periods of time and not actually dealing with the health challenges that they have.”

See Lateline’s full interview at the link below.

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