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- Start of Business
- Social Security Amendment (Parenting Payment Transitional Arrangement) Bill 2011
Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2011
- Second Reading
- Consideration in Detail
- Third Reading
- Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Child Care Financial Viability) Bill 2011
- Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2011-2012
- Aged Care Amendment Bill 2011
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
- Flinders Electorate: Worley Hospital
- McEwen Electorate: Legends of Racing Gala
- Boothby Electorate: Club Marion
- Kennedy Electorate: Economic Development Program
- Leeding, Senior Constable Damian
- Chapman, Mr Philip
- Girl Guides NSW & ACT
- Launceston General Hospital
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Abbott, Tony, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Thomson, Craig, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
(Baldwin, Bob, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
(Wilkie, Andrew, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Neumann, Shayne, MP, Albanese, Anthony, MP)
(Bishop, Julie, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
Social Inclusion Agenda
(Rishworth, Amanda, MP, Plibersek, Tanya, MP)
Emissions Trading Scheme
(Robb, Andrew, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
(Georganas, Steve, MP, Roxon, Nicola, MP)
(Ramsey, Rowan, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
(Murphy, John, MP, Combet, Greg, MP)
- Carbon Pricing
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- Slipper, Peter, MP
- Flynn Electorate: Medicare
- Middle East
- Financial Services
- Petition: Public Holidays, Calwell Electorate: Broadmeadows Superclinic, Community Radio
- Rural and Regional Health Services
- Paterson Electorate: Australian Noise Exposure Forecast
- Australian Books
- Australian Apple Industry
- Rural Australia
- Start of Business
- Hinkler Electorate: Private Health Insurance
- Neighbourhood Watch
- Casey Electorate: Cancer Council Morning Tea
- McMahon Electorate: Festival of the Italian Republic
- Wright Electorate: Beetroot Industry
- Lyne Electorate: Regional Development Programs
- Forde Electorate: Community Events
- Corio Bay Trail
- Gilmore Electorate: Nowra-Bomaderry
- Margaret Ives Community Children's Centre
- STATEMENTS ON INDULGENCE
- QUESTIONS IN WRITING
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Mr ZAPPIA (Makin) (19:08): In speaking to the Prime Minister's statement on National Sorry Day, I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners. I also acknowledge that this week is National Reconciliation Week, as is always the case between 27 May and 3 June. Both dates are significant in our calendar, with 27 May being the date of the 1967 referendum where 90 per cent of Australians voted to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and to recognise them in the national census and 3 June 1992 being the date the High Court delivered its landmark Mabo decision about Aboriginal land rights. National Sorry Day, as other members have said, occurs each year on 26 May. That is the date on which the Bringing them home report, also known as the stolen generations report, co-authored by the late Sir Ronald Wilson and Mick Dodson, was presented to parliament. I had the privilege of inviting Sir Ronald Wilson to the city of Salisbury when I was the Mayor of Salisbury. As part of our Reconciliation Week events, I invited Sir Ronald Wilson to come and address the local community about his report. In fact, I think it was the first public address he made with respect to it after having presented it to parliament. I well recall him describing the emotions he went through and the feelings he had as he was taking evidence from people from around Australia in the preparation of that report. I know how strongly he felt about the issue and the recommendations that he prepared for the parliament.
The report talked about the forced removal of Indigenous people in this country in the period 1909 to 1969. Of course, we know that forced removal of Indigenous people occurred both before and after those dates. Interestingly there were 777 submissions made and, of those, 500 were confidential. The reason they were confidential was that the people who made submissions did not want to talk openly about their experience. They just felt so emotional about it that they were only prepared to make those submissions in confidence to Sir Ronald and those that were with him as part of the inquiry. I remember him making a very strong point about that.
His final report had some 54 recommendations, which included three key ones that I want to briefly touch on: firstly, that funding should be provided to ensure that the stories and the records of those people were in fact compiled; secondly, that reparations should be made with respect to those people that had been forcibly removed as children; and, thirdly, that the Australian government should issue an apology. As we have heard from other speakers, that was done on 13 February 2008 by the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. Again as other speakers have mentioned, I think it was a historic day for this nation. I felt very proud to be a member of this House and of the government that provided that apology. It is certainly one of the memorable events in my time since having been elected to this place.
The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was conducted by Justice Elliott Johnston and concluded in 1991. It is notable that 50 per cent of the deaths investigated by the royal commission related to people who had been removed from their homes. That is an interesting correlation between the two reports. Justice Johnston addressed a community forum in my community on that very topic, and I can recall his personal insight into the inquiry that he conducted.
The issues of both Aboriginal deaths in custody and reparations bring me to the issue of legal aid for Indigenous people in this country. Aboriginal legal rights services commenced throughout Australia in the early 1970s. The Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement of South Australia commenced on 21 January 1973. These services were essentially established to provide legal support and advice to Aboriginal people for mainstream legal matters—typical civil and criminal matters—but also to provide legal aid for members of the stolen generations. With respect to the need for legal aid assistance to Indigenous people I want to quote a report entitled Issues of equity and access by Professor Chris Cunneen and Melanie Schwartz. The report says:
The difficulties experienced by Indigenous people in their interactions with the criminal justice system have been well documented and are regularly reported upon through the Review of Government Service Provision (Productivity Commission) process. The extent of over-representation of Indigenous prisoners has deepened since the landmark Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991, and, as the recent 2007 Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Report noted, "Indigenous people's involvement with the criminal justice system continued to deteriorate". Some relevant headline statistics—
and these are critical—
At 30 June 2006—
and I realise that these dates are now a few years old, but I suspect that little has changed—
Indigenous prisoners represented 24% of the total national prisoner population, the highest proportion since 1996. The actual number of Indigenous prisoners at 30 June 2006 was 6,090—a dramatic increase from 3,275 10 years earlier.
Between 2002 and 2006, the imprisonment rate for Indigenous women increased by 34% and for Indigenous men by 22%.
Currently, Indigenous people are 13 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous people.
At 30 June 2005, Indigenous juveniles were 23 times more likely to be detained than non-Indigenous juveniles.
In 2002, some 16% of Indigenous people reported being arrested at least once in the previous five years.
The last national police custody survey (2002) showed that Indigenous people comprised 26% of all police custodies in Australia and were 17 times more likely to be held in police custody than non-Indigenous people.
Deaths in custody still occur at unacceptably high levels. Of the 54 deaths in custody in 2005, some 28% involved Indigenous detainees.
There are other matters within that report that I would love to quote, but time will not allow me tonight.
The point I would make about that is that the need for Aboriginal legal aid is clearly evident when you look at those statistics and the court presentations that would flow from them. The issue in respect of the legal assistance to members of the stolen generations was also highlighted on 1 August 2007 when in the South Australian Supreme Court Justice Thomas Gray awarded $775,000 to a person who had been taken from his family. Regrettably, that person, less than a year later, passed away.
I just want to finish on this point, because I note that the member for Lingiari is here and also wants to make a contribution to this debate before our time expires. Both the CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement, Neil Gillespie, and chairperson of that movement, Frank Lampard, have raised with the government their concerns about the adequacy of Indigenous legal aid funding and have also raised the question of responsibility for that funding between the federal government and the states. It seems to be an ongoing issue as to who should be responsible.
They have also highlighted that Aboriginal people will not access mainstream legal aid services for various reasons. Again, I could go into that if I had the time, but I will not. But the fact is that they will not access mainstream legal aid services. The Aboriginal legal rights services around this country are losing experienced lawyers because of the shortfall in funding. These are important matters and, since they are related to the Sorry Day statement that we are debating tonight, I bring them to the government's attention. I am pleased to be able to support the government's statement with those remarks.