Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
Message Stick -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) THEME MUSIC welcome to Talking Stick. Hello, I'm Miriam Corrowa, on how it treats its weakest members. It's said that we judge a society be judged when it's clear How then would Australia

and disadvantaged group, than the most vulnerable is also the group Indigenous Australians, increasingly overcrowded prisons? most likely to be languishing in our provide grim evidence Never ending statistics to stop the endless cycle that urgent measures are needed that's consuming far too many lives. of crime, violence and despair by three individuals Well, today we're joined to break this cycle who are working tirelessly positive alternatives and bring hope that are within our reach.

the Chief Executive Officer Dennis Eggington has been

of Western Australia since 1995. of the Aboriginal Legal Service Dennis confronts many In his daily work, and justice issues of the pressing law confronting the communities of WA, of Indigenous incarceration. the state with the highest rate is the Executive Officer Colleen Murray Cultural and Development Centre, of Tirkandi Inaburra out of southern NSW which has been running for the past three years. Indigenous boys ages 12 to 15 It's a centre dedicated to assisting in the juvenile justice system. who are at risk of becoming caught up is one of Australia's And Professor Chris Cunneen whose extensive field of research leading criminology experts, crime and punishment, includes the study of Indigenous and juvenile justice. Global Chair in Criminology He currently holds the New South at the University of New South Wales. for being on the program today. Welcome to you all, thank you so much Pleasure. I'll start with you. Now, Dennis, first of all when we're looking at WA obviously is in a pretty bad way Indigenous incarceration. the statistics with to find out, I'm particularly interested what the impact this is having given your level of experience, year in, year out bad statistics? on those communities in terms of A wide range of effects,

rate of young women, from an increasing incarceration without mothers, which means there's families now of juvenile crime, the growing incidence in remand centres, and therefore lots of kids because a lot of the courts and people being taken from country, children's courts in Perth, and particularly removed from country so people are being

without the back-up of family and brought a long way from home that you need and support from family and doing it hard. when you're incarcerated have in terms of those families So, what does that sort of impact taken away to institutions? that have members that are removed, does it have, I suppose, I mean, what sort of impacts in an intergenerational impact?

it has the same impact Well, I would think that the Stolen Generations, as when we had not being families together. which were families who's incarcerated, You've got a father or a son

and then of course, a mother who's not, Grandparents, normally, who looks after all of those? the same kind of effect and so it's having functioning properly, where families aren't what that happens. and of course we know pathways that lead people Research shows us that the causal or antisocial behaviour to drug abuse or the criminal justice system years of age, start as young as zero to five then kids are being put so if there's not strong families towards the justice system on those causal pathways at a very early age. also, given your experience And I'm interested to find out, in this field, Professor Cunneen, and researching over many years that are talked about I mean, we hear a lot of the figures but do we understand and they seem to be getting worse, these trends continue? a lot about why we're seeing the biggest single reason I think that probably over the last decade or so is State and Territory governments in the way they have become much more punitive law-and-order policies, have embarked on that harshness, and that punitiveness, on Aboriginal people has really impacted throughout the country. and Torres Strait Islander people that we're locking up So I think we certainly know we're locking them up more and more people, and it's not surprising, for longer periods of time, a rocket scientist to see, you don't have to be the most disadvantaged people that's going to impact on and that's Indigenous people. in the Australian community, got worse and worse at a time... So the figures have just to the Royal Commission You know, if we look back recommendation was that we should in the early '90s, the biggest of people in prison, reduce the number opposite over the last two decades. and in fact, we've done the very people up. We've locked more and more between communities And it seems that interface and law and justice system and the police relationship that we're seeing, still seems to be quite a difficult needs to be looked at? and is that something that also the fact that you can't seem to Is that an issue in terms of that can actually be positive, get a relationship going and law and justice that people can see that police actually serves their community? that's just impacting negatively Instead it's something I think it's a really big issue. on the community. community-driven projects, We have lots of innovative local but by and large, the legal system legal system, is the Anglo-Australian that's been pushed onto and it's a foreign legal system from the very beginning, Aboriginal people and it's still in many ways, and rural communities, particularly in remote to people's needs. an alien legal system Aboriginal victims of crime, It doesn't protect victims of crime, or help offenders. and it doesn't rehabilitate So it's the broad sense, it's failure, and it's one that causes an enormous amount of hardship for Aboriginal people and also for many non-Aboriginal people, as well. I think that's where lies some of the answers, and that is about the relationship that we do have - not just the relationship that the Aboriginal community has with the police, but the relationship we have with Australia,

and really there hasn't been any peace settlement, and there hasn't really been any kind of signing off and really, in some ways, we're still at war. We're sick, we've got lots of people locked up, and the relationship isn't right. It's that unfinished business stuff. So hopefully if we as first nation peoples can have that proper relationship with Australia, then it might flow on after generations

that there is a special place in this country for Aboriginal people. And I'm particularly interested in some of the work

that you've been involved with, Colleen. I know the Tirkandi Inaburra Centre's been getting a lot of good press, and I think it's about time we did have that focused shift,

as you were saying, Professor Cunneen, about the punitive approach that's been had with our legal and justice system. But Tirkandi Inaburra is quite a different approach. Can you tell us a little bit more about what the program runs? Yeah, it is very different,

and it's one of a kind, which I'm not happy about. There needs to be hundreds of them. And we're actually dealing with 12- to 15-year-old boys, which is really late. I mean, trying to change entrenched poor behaviour

is difficult. The program brings the boys in for three to six months, but then again, it's a big ask to ask that child to leave his family voluntarily for three to six months, to have a crack at changing his life. But it is unique. And... ..what I found in the three years that we've been doing this is that these children respond really well to rigour and rules. And they crave authority. They really do crave authority. I mean, the bravado that they exhibit is just that, it is bravado, bad language, bad behaviour. And it's all about insecurity. They're insecure with their world, with their future. They don't think they've got a future.

And they need that nurturing and that support. Because a bulk of these boys are coming, as Dennis said, from families that have been torn apart, you know.

They're coming from one-parent families where Mum or Dad isn't coping. And they need someone to care for them. And that's what we do there. But while they're there, they have to learn about life. And life isn't a box of chocolates for them. But they have to learn the realities of life, and they have to learn that their behaviours will impact on their life and their future. And they have to learn to change that behaviour, to change their pathway in life. And the statistics from Tirkandi indicate that these boys are doing well out there by themselves. They're really doing well. You'd certainly hope to see something like Tirkandi replicated across the country, obviously taking into account local community factors, and needs to support the community that they're coming from as well. Are you hopeful that there might be some more of this stuff happening in WA? Miriam, there's lots of men's groups around, and I think one of the things that we do say to one another is that we'd love to get hold of our young boys from our communities from the ages of 12, with Colleen's to 15, but possibly to 18, so that we can handle them and try to get some authority. It's very interesting that Colleen says that her boys crave authority, because really that's what has been taken from our community, our elders and from our senior men and women, is the authority to be a part of this process.

And Chris and others know that the whole restorative justice stuff with Aboriginal Courts is about giving authority back to our elders and our senior people to be involved in some of these decision-making processes within the justice system. But um, we can do that, we want to do that, but I mean, I've just got to back up what Chris has said - WA is quite peculiar in this instance, it's that we've got mandatory sentencing, we've got the toughest juvenile justice laws and they're just not working, they're not working at all. Actually, things are getting worse. So one strong message to our politicians that is that if you want more of the same, then you keep putting these harsher laws in place. But once again, the general community allows people to get away with it. They've got some kind of fear of Aboriginal people, some kind of law and justice fear about their safety and their community. And that's why people get away with these tough laws. Their community in general want them, but aren't being prepared to put up with the negative effect that they have, and they just want to get tougher, build more prisons. And WA is a clear example where authority needs to be given back to our elders, and cut these harsh laws out because they're not working. We spend an absurd amount of money locking people up. I mean, the current figures

now are around a bit over $100,000 a year to hold one person in prison. And you know, that is really an absurd amount of money when you compare what misses out in those communities in terms of infrastructure, in terms of community development and support. I mean, if you think of those poor communities and the amount of money that's being spent locking people up from those communities, rather than putting the money into the community to develop it, then you really see the huge imbalance between where our priorities are. We just spend unlimited amounts of money putting people behind bars, and yet we're totally frugal and absolute scrooges when it comes to funding things like Tirkandi. It doesn't make any sense to me. Are we serious about changing what happens to Aboriginal Australians? Are we really serious? Do we want transgenerational change or don't we? Because if they don't do this now, they're going to be pouring money into the back-end of prisons forever and a day. And you know, we've got another stolen generation going on and you're absolutely right, Dennis. What future have we got? We've got no future, if they don't do something about it now. They have to be serious

about trying to change it. It's ourselves that have got to take the initiative, I think,

and programs like Colleen's or programs that work with families, whole families, in a wholistic way, pull them out of the system and work with them to heal the families, break cycles within the families, these are things that people really want to do. But just it's much easier to have tough laws and lock people up. Do we need to look more broadly and be looking at schooling, be looking at health, and getting a more integrated approach to how we deal with people who are struggling in our communities? People have been talking about justice investment, justice reinvestment, that you think about investing in a community that's currently siphoned off into the criminal justice system. And yeah, that sort of investment, whether it's in skills, in education, in training, in basic infrastructure, that sort of investment would go an enormous way to allowing those communities to actually facilitate and operate as communities should, rather than falling apart to the edges, which many communities are because of the lack of any social skills or economic skills or infrastructure. But I think at the individual level, we need to recognise that we do need to do things with people who commit crimes, who commit sometimes really horrendous crimes. We can't just ignore that. And that's where I think we need to look at the sort of programs that work with families or work with individual offenders. And there's lots of positive stuff out there. Dennis before mentioned men's groups. I mean there's been a great growth in Aboriginal men's groups throughout the country, and they're really important in terms of changing men's behaviour where it involves violence against women. And that's about people changing as individuals. And there's no doubt that Aboriginal people who do commit offences can change, can rehabilitate. But that not what the justice system is doing at the moment. And the boys that we have at the centre, the vast majority of them are illiterate. And the older they are, the more disadvantaged they are. Now these boys need a future. To get a job, they need to learn to read and write. So they need an emphasis on their education. But the education system is not geared up to deal with boys with bad behaviour and the issues that come with the bad behaviour. And they place them into what they called

ED classes, what's actually Emotionally Disturbed classes. For goodness sake! You know, the brain goes on the child and the child acts out. There needs to be a focus on helping these boys get their basic right of a good education in this country to change their future. I suppose the police culture is particularly important because that's usually the first contact, isn't it? I guess it's crucial that we look at police culture and how that's interacting with communities. I think part of the problem at the moment is that the culture really valorises or gives credit to arrest.

A good arrest is what you get congratulated on. You don't get congratulated on taking a young person to receive a caution, or taking them to a conference or just to Tirkandi Inaburra. The culture doesn't tell you that it's actually good police work. It tells you, "Go out and arrest people". And the more people that you arrest, the better job you're doing. So it is about leadership, and about changing that culture. And I think it's not an impossible thing to do, but it does take leadership. It takes political leadership beyond the police to say, "Look, these are sorts of things we need to be doing." We need to be supporting community organisations, we need to be supporting alternatives

rather than just banging people behind bars. Yes. Perhaps they need to send the police out there to do a bit of a stint at Tirkandi Inaburra. And it'd be really rewarding for them because they really need to understand the issues that are affecting these boys, and there are some terrible issues. When they come in there tough little nuts, five and six weeks into the program, we got 12 and 13-year-old boys chasing butterflies and looking for lizards rather than trying to damage something or harass someone or swear at someone. And it warms your heart. And they need to come and see that. They're children. I think that there are signs that things are happening at a community level in little pockets around the country. I know personally from my experience, I spent some time with police on the south coast of New South Wales and they had an initiative where they tried to stop targeting in terms of children who were doing the wrong thing, and put the focus on children doing the right thing. Yeah. And they had a program to take kids to Kokoda. And I take heart from little instances like that that you see people are pushing that in their own little community. It's a question of whether we can see that happening on a broader scale, I suppose. Tirkandi Inaburra was a vision for 15 years, and it became a reality. It took a long time to get established. And it's taken a long time to settle in. But in three years, we've had just over 200 boys through the facility. Only 76 of those boys have graduated. And there's a lot of reasons for that, but those boys that graduate, their success is really good. I mean, we've got 46 boys who are still going to school. We've got six boys who are actually enrolled in TAFE. We've got five graduates who have now got their Year 10 certificate. And these are boys that are disengaged from school when they came to Tirkandi. We've got five boys who are full-time employed.

We've got a shearer, we've got an apprentice tailer. You know, really full-time meaningful jobs. If you locked them up, if you put a fence up there, you would not get the outcomes that we get

because these boys do want to change their life. And the voluntary part of it is the key to getting them to change their life. It's not forced on them. I think one of the great problems with the adult system at the moment is the lack of alternatives, voluntary or compulsory for magistrates and judges in terms of sentencing Aboriginal people in rural and remote areas. And it's a form of indirect discrimination where you just don't have facilities to offer things like community service orders or a requirement to go to a centre if you're living in rural remote areas. Often magistrates are faced with the choice of either giving a good behaviour bond, - which is virtually doing nothing - or a fine, which they know people are not gonna be able to pay, or sending people to prison. And so what you have is magistrates regularly giving quite minor penalties with no form of supervision, no form of program. The persons re-offence and then all of a sudden, bang, they're sent to prison. And that's a real issue. If you're living in the cities, of home detention, you might have the choice of a program, some sort of drug and alcohol program or counselling program. But for most Aboriginal people living in rural areas or remote areas, that option is just not there. It's either do nothing or get sent to jail. I think lots of laws are being passed that do have an indirect discrimination

against Aboriginal people. For instance, curfews and move-on notices, of the people that have been picked up for those, 86% of people are Aboriginal. So whether people are being profiled, in other words, targeted - there's an Aboriginal person, we're going to move him on. Or there's a person, we'll give him a curfew to get out of town. And there's been this development, this development of mandatory types of sentencing. And I find it very offensive because it even takes away judicial discretion, which is,

if there's limited options, and then the discretion is being taken away, then we are really heading towards some strange ways of dealing

with social problems in this country.

And it would be interesting, Chris, to hear what you think about the development of mandatory sentencing. Western Australia is obviously probably the worst case now in Australia

given that the NT laws were repealed a few years ago. But it's still very much on the political agenda. I mean every State or territory election, you hear the Opposition party raising the spectrum of mandatory sentencing.

And yeah, I think it's certainly still there. And it is using, it's already using a variety of different types of offences although not as extensively as it is in Western Australia or was in the Northern Territory. But it's something which has clearly impacted on Indigenous people. In terms of, you know, that long battle that everyone obviously is involved in,

in terms of trying to turn this around. I'd just like to ask each of you personally - what is it that gives you the motivation to continue working in this field? It's obviously one that weighs heavily on all of you. So you've got a few minutes to let us know what it is that keeps you fighting, I suppose. I think that I have a real genuine desire to see us and I'll just use my example as a Noongar man, that the Noongar nation gets its rightful place back in Australian society. And that if one of the symptoms of that is this problem we have with the justice system, then I'm still gonna be a part of that to try to do the best I can. But it's really that driving force for me is one day to be able to look back and say, "Ah, we are now rec -" Not reconciled, it's not the right word. "We now have our rightful place in this country as First Nations peoples." And that relationship is now started on a road where generation after generation, Australians will start to change their attitudes towards Aboriginal people, see that special place, and finally accept it. Not to hide it somewhere as a part of horrible history, or that they're too frightened to share the economic power with Aboriginal communities for whatever reason. But that's what drives me. It's that until that unfinished business stuff is still not tidied up, then that's my driving force. Colleen, what is it for you? Oh, I think it's - Oh, we're talking about children. And every child is entitled to be nurtured and loved and have a good life. And there's far too many people who are jumping to the conclusion that these children aren't worth it. And they ARE worth it. They can be changed. They need help. And we need to help them, rather than lock them up. I mean, it saddens me that we are moving down that path without trying, without trying to help. And I know we can help. I know we can change it. And for you, Professor Cunneen, particularly for someone who's not Indigenous

but who works a lot with Indigenous people. Yeah, look, I'm non-Aboriginal, but I've been working with Aboriginal organisations

and working with Aboriginal people for probably 25 years now. I mean, I come from a family that came to Australia in the 1850s and has been here a long time. But you know, over that 150 years,

there has been no just agreement or resolution between non-Aboriginal people and Aboriginal people in Australia. And that's the kind of broad feeling that drives me. But specifically around the criminal justice system, I just see the criminal justice system

as an extraordinarily oppressive mechanism that does really destructive things to people.

And it's done particularly destructive things to Aboriginal people. And so for me, whatever I can do to kind of change that is what drives me. Thank you. Thank you, everyone. And thank you also for your efforts working in this field. I know it can't be easy, so your time is really appreciated today.

Wonderful being here. Thank you. Thank you. If you'd like to watch this show again or even recommend it to a friend, you can watch the video online or subscribe to a Message Stick vodcast. Just go to our website at and follow the prompts. If you subscribe, Message Stick episodes will be downloaded automatically as they become available.

It's your choice when you watch us. Closed captions by CSI

WOMAN: This takes me back. Outside these doors was where we - me and Troy - met.

(SHUTTER CLICKS) He had the dumbest pick-up line. This was where we lived when we got married. Behind this door was where the abuse started. For five years he beat me. I was lucky if it was just his fists. This was the door that saved my life - the Salvos Women's Refuge. Behind this locked door, I was safe.

Safe from anger, from fear and safe from him. And she's smiling for the first time in over two years.

This program is not subtitled

Throughout the 19th century,

long-distance air travel remained an unlikely dream. The aeroplane had not been invented and hot-air balloons, even after 100 years of development, could still not arrive at a desired destination unless the wind blew in the right direction. But as the century turned, the best prospect for conquering the skies lay in gigantic powered flying machines. The airships. They were the largest and most romantic aircraft ever conceived... ..pioneering intercontinental air travel and exploration to uncharted corners of the globe. Behind every giant, a story of passion and political intrigue.

None more so than those that became symbols of nations.

In the quest for global supremacy, they revolutionised warfare. And their story remains today amongst the most controversial in the history of flight.

On the border between Germany and Switzerland lies Lake Constance. From across the globe, people pilgrimage here to experience the romance and adventure of lighter-than-air travel. MAN: The magic - well, just that you're going at a slow speed, you just lean on the edge and it all unfolds in front of you. You can smell the air, you can feel the air and you get a view of the countryside which is supreme. You're in tune with the planet on which you were born. No place has played a more important role in the airship story than Lake Constance. Located in the kingdom of Wurttemberg, it was the setting for the dramatic story of the man whose name became synonymous with the airship. BIRDSONG In 1838, on the shores of the lake, Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin was born into a world of wealth, privilege and revolution. As an ambitious young nobleman, he felt it his duty to serve in the military.

And he distinguished himself as a cavalry officer in the Franco-Prussian War. But at the age of 52, his brilliant career was shattered. His forthright views on the Prussian military leadership saw him relieved of his command. He had no choice but to resign his commission. MAN: A huge psychological blow to him, the man for whom the army was everything. The king of Wurttemberg realised that the Count had been unfairly criticised and as a riposte to the central government and to the Kaiser, he immediately appointed him 'general in retirement'. This, of course, was pleasant, as far as the Count was concerned, but in no way made up for the huge psychological blow that he suffered. And from that day, 1890, he decided that he would seek to regain his honour by developing for Germany a war-winning weapon. The idea for the weapon came partly from the American Civil War. As an official observer,