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Indigenous legal cuts a national embarrassment

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 6 Mar 2015

The Australian Greens have condemned the funding cuts to indigenous legal aid services, which will see the peak body NATSILS close its doors in June.

Spokesperson for legal affairs Senator Penny Wright said the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service advocacy was crucial to addressing shocking levels of indigenous incarceration.

"More than one in four prisoners are Aboriginal, despite making up only a fraction of our population. Too many are in jail because of inadequate legal understanding and representation," Senator Wright said.

"These cuts demonstrate an appalling lack of concern about shameful over-incarceration of Aboriginal people.

"Without the national coordination, advocacy and frontline assistance NATSILS provides, I believe we will see imprisonment rates rise even further."

Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues Senator Rachel Siewert said: "This is a national embarrassment that the first so called Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs has allowed this to go ahead.

"Indigenous legal aid services around the country are already suffering from funding cuts of $42 million.

"To refuse NATSILS the $295,000 it needs to keep going is shameful, as it costs governments more than $100,000 a year for every person in jail."

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