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Indigenous legal aid cuts must not go ahead

Prime Minister Tony Abbott must urgently clarify if he intends to reverse his party's election promise to make multi-million dollar cuts to indigenous legal aid, say the Australian Greens.

The Attorney General's Department last night confirmed frontline services could not be isolated from the $42 million cut to indigenous legal aid funding under questioning from Senator Rachel Siewert and Senator Penny Wright.

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Abbott cuts to Indigenous legal services hypocritical

The Australian Greens have condemned Tony Abbott's cuts to the Indigenous Legal Assistance and Policy Reform Program, saying it goes against all his past rhetoric and will exacerbate the shameful incarceration rates for Indigenous Australians.

"Tony Abbott says he wants to prioritise efforts to end Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage, but cutting Indigenous legal aid funding undermines this commitment," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.

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Greens to boost Indigenous language learning in schools

The Australian Greens will commit $30 million to expand the teaching and learning of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, schools spokesperson Senator Penny Wright and NT Greens Senate candidate Warren H. Williams announced today.

Ahead of National Indigenous Literacy Day on Wednesday, Mr Williams said Australia risked losing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages without a more concerted effort in schools.

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Greens to boost funds for indigenous legal services

The Australian Greens have unveiled an election commitment to double funding to indigenous family violence prevention programs and increase funding to indigenous legal services by 50 per cent.

A total of $182.1 million would be invested over the next three financial years to improving access to justice for indigenous Australians, through organisations including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services.

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SMARTER, SAFER, STRONGER: The Greens’ plan for a more effective approach to criminal justice

Since 1984, the number of Australians in jail has tripled. The mantra of "tough on crime" has actually been tough on budgets because jails are phenomenally expensive to build and run.

The criminal justice system costs more than $14.5 billion every year and yet we don't feel safer.

While we will always need jails for the most serious offenders, there are many people who do not need to be there. Our prisons should not be storing houses for the mentally ill or those too poor to pay fines.

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Drug and alcohol treatments to reduce crime, boost health

The Australian Greens have backed calls to divert non-violent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders with substance use problems into rehabilitation or treatment programs in place of prison terms.

 "We need Federal leadership for a new approach across the country to fix what is clearly a very broken system," said Australian Greens spokesperson on legal affairs, Senator Penny Wright.

"We must address the underlying causes of disadvantage, which mean many Aboriginal people do not have the same opportunities and support as other Australians.

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Time for a new approach to juvenile justice

Increasing over-representation of Indigenous youth in juvenile detention shows the drastic need for a new approach to justice in Australia, say Australian Greens Senators Penny Wright and Rachel Siewert.

New figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show Indigenous young people account for 53 per cent of all youth in detention and were 31 times as likely as non-Indigenous young people to be in detention, up from 27 times as likely in 2008.

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Motion for Senate Inquiry on Justice Reinvestment

I move:

that the following matter be referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 16 May 2013:

The value of a justice reinvestment approach to criminal justice in Australia, with particular reference to:

(a) the drivers behind the past 30 years of growth in the Australian imprisonment rate;

(b) the economic and social costs of imprisonment;

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Senate to investigate new approach on crime

A new and more economically responsible approach to crime in Australia will be examined by a Senate Inquiry following the success today of a motion by Australian Greens spokesperson on Legal Affairs, Senator Penny Wright.

The Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee will investigate growing imprisonment rates and the benefits of implementing a Justice Reinvestment approach.

"Our justice system, as it stands, is not producing safer communities and it is time for a new strategy," Senator Wright said.

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