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Project 10 Per Cent
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Moore, Sen Claire
Project 10 Per Cent
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- Start of Business
- Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Bill 2011
- Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2011 Measures No. 1) Bill 2011
- Aged Care Amendment Bill 2011
- Customs Amendment (Serious Drugs Detection) Bill 2011
Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Further Election Commitments and Other Measures) Bill 2011
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QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Australian Labor Party
(Ryan, Sen Scott, Evans, Sen Christopher)
Live Animal Exports
(Sterle, Sen Glenn, Ludwig, Sen Joe)
Live Animal Exports
(Boswell, Sen Ronald, Ludwig, Sen Joe)
(Milne, Sen Christine, Ludwig, Sen Joe)
(Payne, Sen Marise, Arbib, Sen Mark)
(Furner, Sen Mark, Arbib, Sen Mark)
(Bernardi, Sen Cory, Wong, Sen Penny)
(Senator FIELDING, Ludwig, Sen Joe)
(Macdonald, Sen Ian, Wong, Sen Penny)
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- Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2011-2012, Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2011-2012, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2011-2012, Family Assistance and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2011, Tax Laws Amendment (2011 Measures No. 5) Bill 2011, Veterans' Entitlements Amendment Bill 2011
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- REGULATIONS AND DETERMINATIONS
- Senator HUTCHINS
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- Senator FIELDING
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- Joyce, Sen Barnaby
- Sterle, Sen Glenn
- Arbib, Sen Mark
- Stephens, Sen Ursula
- Bishop, Sen Mark
- Farrell, Sen Don
- Pratt, Sen Louise
- Brown, Sen Carol
- Feeney, Sen David
- Brown, Sen Carol
- QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Senator MOORE (Queensland) (19:34): Earlier this month Project 10% was launched. Project 10% aims to reduce the rates of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by determining which programs and services are not working and replacing them with ones that actually do work. One of the key aspects of Project 10% is that it is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led and directed. It will only work in partnership with the community, the government and other stakeholders.
Its directors show that leadership. The current directors are Ken Georgetown, who is also the CEO of Murri Watch in Brisbane; Kitty Cara, the current president of Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation, ANTAR, and Monique Bond, the former president; Megan Williams, a researcher at the Indigenous Health Unit at the University of Queensland; well-known Uncle Norm Clark, a member of the Premier's Advisory Council and a respected elder; Colleen Wall, from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Legal and Advocacy Service; and John Close, from the Gurri Recovery Centre.
The well-known law firm McCullough Robertson is working with this group to establish the project as a legal entity and ensure that they have proper standards of governance and an application for charitable status. McCullough Robertson is taking on the project as part of its Community Partnerships Program, which prioritises access to justice. Project 10% seeks to start turning around those damning statistics which we all know, and deserves more than just the support of law firms.
We know that in the 30 years since the report into Aboriginal deaths in custody the rates of incarceration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have increased. The increase in the incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has occurred at the same time as the average national crime rate has fallen. In my own state, Queensland, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more than 11 times more likely than any other Queenslander to be in the prison system.
Queensland is currently home to the second largest population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, just after New South Wales. And we know, because it is part of our great state, that we have the largest population of Torres Strait Islander people. By 2020, with the current statistics, Queensland will have the largest population of people who identify as Aboriginal and Islander people. But what kind of home will it be? If the current stats continue, will the prison system be more likely to be home than any other residence?
Project 10% can succeed. At its launch, Professor Boni Robertson—a good friend of mine—from Griffith University talked about how the program originated and how we are able to make a difference. She asked—and this is a challenge to all of us: 'Why are we still giving custodial sentences to a vulnerable 19-year-old person with the intellectual capacity of a 14 year old?' That questions hangs before us. Professor Robertson went on to answer her own question. She said:
We need real programs. Not real systems. Prison is a system but there are no real programs (in rehabilitation) to reduce the changes of people returning to prison. Very little is being done about dangerous home environments, poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, unemployment, violence against women and other s and the very many situations that lead to women and youth going to prison. It's time to knuckle down and work out why we haven't made any progress in thirty years. It's time to redirect those funds from building more prisons to investing in social capital and rehabilitation.
Professor Robertson has identified many areas where we do not know or do not understand what happens to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders after a prison sentence. We know that they return to communities but we also know that there is not the safety or support required for those people in those communities. We have to look at what systems have not been working and what does work. Project 10% is about protecting the whole community, not just Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Spending on rehabilitation and prevention is not proportionate to the amount we spend on prisons themselves. Project 10% is not just about spending money. In 2008 and 2009, the expenditure on prisons was $2.8 billion nationally, at a cost that has been estimated at $276 per person per day. The question that Project 10% is raising is: how much more could we do in our community if we were to put some of that money into effective rehabilitation services? How could we better focus the efforts of the whole community in looking at prevention, education and support?
Project 10% has adopted an international model of a justice centre, which analyses crime, arrests, convictions, prisons, and probation and parole supervision data provided by state and local agencies. We know that this data is available, and we need to look at how best we can use that in partnership and collaboration and working with communities. The justice centre would map specific neighbourhoods where large numbers of people under criminal justice supervision live and cross reference this with information with reports of criminal activity and the need for services, including substance abuse and mental health treatment programs. There is a crying need. This need has been identified, and we can make this work.
This information would enable assessment of current services aimed at reducing recidivism. Using the local information and working with the local people, this justice centre could develop practical, evidence based and consensus based policies that would reduce spending on corrections to reinvest in strategies that can improve public safety and reduce crime, incarceration and recidivism. The impact of those changes would be able to be seen in people, families and communities.
Only this week the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs released a report called Doing time. Time for doing. Indigenous youth in the criminal justice system. This very important report identified many of the same issues that were discussed by Project 10%. The report's research showed that young Indigenous offenders are more likely to be referred to court than non-Indigenous offenders for exactly the same offence—and we need to understand why. No-one has been able to effectively say why, if you have two people, particularly young people, who are charged with the same offence, there seems to be across the country differing responses to that offence.
As Professor Robertson said at the launch of Project 10%, we need to understand why. The best way of doing that is to work with communities to ensure that communities are safer and provide more support and that we genuinely respond to the challenge before us—because those stats are not acceptable. We cannot have a prison system which seems to be more of a home to a large number of people who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander than the homes from which they come. One of the clear requirements must be that the homes and the communities are made safe. People need to have effective education and support systems. Those issues which have been raised by Project 10% need to be taken up by governments and communities and we need to work together to make a change.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006 Census, 10,000 of the 50,000 Indigenous people surveyed indicated that they spoke English not well or not at all. Can there be a more damning statistic—that within our population we have people who are not comfortable and able to communicate effectively? That shows the need for effective education systems.
There are of course also the issues of mental health and general health. We know that within prison populations there is a higher rate of people who are suffering from mental health conditions and people who do not have sound health outcomes—people who are not able to effectively hear or people who have a range of conditions that need immediate treatment and support.
Project 10% is about raising these issues in the wider community and working out ways to make sure that there is support. We need to ensure that our criminal justice system is fair and that there is a hope for a full recovery in terms of living full lives with effective futures. It is important that we support initiatives such as Project 10%. It is an honour to know the people who work in this area. It is an ongoing challenge to all of us. I commend the people who are part of this project and I hope to work with them into the future.