The Australian Greens have criticised the Government for being all words and no action when it comes to reducing indigenous over-representation in the criminal justice system.
The agenda for Friday’s COAG meeting did not include the possible adoption of a justice-related Closing the Gap target despite it being referred to COAG by the nation’s Attorneys-General last July.
“I am deeply disappointed that a Closing the Gap ‘justice target’ was not discussed at Friday’s COAG meeting,” Greens spokesperson for Legal Affairs, Senator Penny Wright, said.
“The Government last year in its response to the Doing Time – Time for Doing report accepted the need for a justice target, but this issue has since fallen off the radar.
“The extreme over-representation of Indigenous people in our criminal justice system is a national tragedy and has been allowed to persist for too long.
“Indigenous imprisonment rates are strongly interrelated with poor outcomes in health, employment and education – existing targets in these three areas will not be met if we do not also reduce the disproportionate number of Indigenous Australians spending time in jail.
“We stand beside Indigenous community leaders, such as the First People’s Congress and current and former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioners Mick Gooda and Tom Calma in calling for a new approach. We need to address the underlying causes of crime, not simply throw more and more people in jail.
“The Government needs to stop procrastinating and work with the states and territories to act on implementing a justice target now.”