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Involvement of Indigenous juveniles and young adults in the criminal justice system
House of Representatives committee
Friday, 28 January 2011
Involvement of Indigenous juveniles and young adults in the criminal justice system

CHAIR (Mr Neumann) —Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I declare open this public hearing of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs inquiry into the high level of involvement of Indigenous juveniles and young adults in the criminal justice system. I want to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and paying our respects to their elders past, present and future. We also acknowledge those Aboriginal people who are now residing in this area.

Firstly, I want to thank you very much for coming here today. In the last parliament this committee received over 100 submissions, and we had about 17 public hearings. But this is a new parliament, a new committee, with a new chair and a new deputy chair. Thank you to those people who have come here again and who have, in the past, provided submissions.

These meetings are formal proceedings of the parliament. Everything said should be factual and honest. It is considered a serious matter to attempt to mislead the committee. This hearing is open to the public and a transcript of what is said will be placed on the committee’s website.

Before we start, I would like to introduce the other members of the committee. We will state where we come from, so you get a feel of everyone’s background and where we are geographically in the country. I am the federal member for Blair, which is based in the Ipswich and Somerset regions, including the Brisbane Valley. In my area we do not necessarily refer to where people live by towns; we usually indicate where they live in proximity to rivers. I live near the Wivenhoe Dam, the Brisbane River and the Bremer River. My area has been subject to a lot of flooding, as has Sharman’s area in Victoria.

Dr STONE —I am the federal member for Murray, in northern Victoria, along the Murray River. It is an agricultural region, with a big Koori population that has been there forever but which is in Echuca and Shepparton, in particular.

Ms GRIERSON —I am the federal member for Newcastle. Newcastle is a big hub for Indigenous services and Indigenous people. I have been in parliament for nine years. In that time I have been involved in some inquiries, including into the Aboriginal legal justice system, an earlier inquiry. So I am very interested to pick up on this one. I am a former school principal, so I am fairly used to the education and community development issues that you have been grappling with.

Mr HUSIC —I am the federal MP for Chifley, which covers Blacktown through to Mount Druitt and up to just south of Riverstone. We have some of the highest numbers of Aboriginals, from the Dharug clan, living in urban Australia.

Mrs GRIGGS —I am the federal member for Solomon, which is down in Palmerston in the Northern Territory. I am a new member of parliament, recently elected in August, along with my colleague Ed. We also have a high Indigenous population in the Northern Territory. I do not have a lot of remote communities in my electorate, but Indigenous people from those communities come into the urban communities when there are issues in the communities.

CHAIR —I come from Ipswich and there is a large Indigenous population through that whole corridor. All the members of this committee have had backgrounds and interests, particularly in these types of issues. I was a former lawyer, practising in criminal law and family law.

[9.08 am]