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Wednesday, 1 December 2004
Page: 73

Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (3:05 PM) —During question time this week, on 29 November 2004, Senator Ridgeway asked me a question regarding the National Indigenous Justice Strategy. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the further comments that I undertook to relay to the Senate.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows—

Following further advice received from the Attorney-General's Department, I wish to inform the Senate that:

“Indigenous Peoples' Justice Issues” is a standing item for the first round of APMC meetings each year. The National Indigenous Justice Strategy is one of the issues that may be discussed under this broader heading.

Senator Ridgeway's supplementary question asked me about annual reporting obligations of States and Territories on the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Report. I replied that such reports were provided at the APMC meetings and at the last SCAG meeting. The annual report I referred to is in fact the annual report required by the 1992 National Commitment to Improved Outcomes in the Delivery on Programs and Services to Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. Whilst these reports do not discuss Royal Commission implementation issues specifically, they deal with a range of State and Territory initiatives in place to address Indigenous justice issues and are presented annually to APMC (and then referred onto SCAG).

However, the Royal Commission did recommend that a program be established to monitor Indigenous and non- Indigenous deaths in custody. The National Deaths in Custody Program was established in 1992 at the Australian Institute of Criminology. The States and Territories now provide statistics on a voluntary basis to the AIC in relation to Aboriginal deaths in custody. The AIC produces and disseminates regular reports on the numbers of deaths in custody, and the patterns and trends observed with these deaths in custody. SCAG and APMC are not involved in the collection of this data.

I referred in my answer to the supplementary question to 10 COAG trial sites across Australia. COAG proposed up to 10 trial sites, although to date in fact 8 COAG trial sites, one for each State and Territory, have been implemented. The 8 trial sites are at Cape York (Qld), Wadeye (NT), the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands (SA), Kimberley Region of WA, Shepparton (Vic), Murdi Paaki (NSW), the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern region of Tasmania.