Introduction of CNS welcome but still a long way to go to reduce rate of Aboriginal incarceration

Greens spokesperson for Corrective Services Hon Alison Xamon MLC has today welcomed the Government’s commitment to establishing a Custody Notification Service (CNS), but stresses there is still much work to do to reduce the horrendous rate of Aboriginal incarceration in Western Australia.

Ms Xamon said the introduction of the CNS by mid-year was an important step in supporting Aboriginal prisoners and preventing further deaths in custody, but action was still urgently needed on other issues including reducing the rate of imprisonment for fine default.

“We know that the introduction of a CNS in New South Wales in 2000 has effectively stopped Aboriginal deaths in custody,” Ms Xamon said.

“The Government’s commitment to introducing the service here by mid-year is welcome – albeit long overdue. 

“It has now been 27 years since the program, which will offer culturally appropriate support and advice to Aboriginal people in custody, was first recommended by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody.

“But more action is needed to reduce the overall number of Aboriginal adults, children and young people incarcerated in this state.

“The case of Ms Dhu highlights the potentially tragic consequences of not putting in place alternatives to prison for vulnerable people who are unable to pay fine debts.

“We still have the highest rate of Aboriginal incarceration in the country – and the numbers are still increasing.

“We must be doing more to ensure that every possible mechanism is put in place not only to prevent Aboriginal deaths in custody, but also to reduce incarceration rates.”