Judicial System

Incarceration / Deaths in Custody / Change the record / Raise the Age / Justice re- investment

“Every element of Banksia Hill was failing” – New report scathing of WA youth prison

07/06/23 National Indigenous Times: Western Australia’s only youth detention facility is in an “emergency” in which “every element” is failing, the state’s Inspector of Custodial Services says in a report made public Thursday. Click here to view article.

Aboriginal peacemakers meet to discuss conflict resolution in remote NT communities

28/05/23 ABC News: Representatives from five remote Northern Territory communities have attended a mediation program in Katherine. NAAJA’s principal legal officer says Indigenous leaders need more support to resolve community. Read in full here.

National Aboriginal justice taskforce needed to tackle youth justice crisis – top law expert

02/01/2023 National Indigenous Times: Noongar law professor, Dr McGlade a leading expert on international human rights law has called for the creation of a national Aboriginal justice taskforce in response to the youth justice crisis. Noongar law professor Dr Hannah McGlade said the problem, which made headlines again on Saturday with a riot in Banksia Hill Detention Centre, was not isolated to Western Australia.

Dr McGlade urged the federal government to show greater leadership on this issue across the country.


‘Inspiration to so many’: David Woodroffe sworn in as Northern Territory’s first Aboriginal judge

03/01/23 SBS News: The NT’s first Aboriginal judge paid tribute to his family and Stolen Generations survivors during his swearing-in ceremony. At the official swearing in ceremony, he vowed to continue the work of the “greater diversity of the justice system of the Northern Territory”.

A descendant of members of the Stolen Generations, Judge Woodroffe said he was inspired to pursue a legal career as a result.


National spotlight shines on Western Australia’s youth justice shame

14/11/22 National Indigenous Times: The humanitarian crisis in Western Australia’s youth justice system is on the national stage with more and more voices calling for urgent reforms.


It is 2022 and stray animals get aircon while Indigenous prisoners cook in Australia’s hottest jail

04/11/22 National Indigenous Times: Sooner or later a prisoner is going to literally cook to death in Roebourne Regional Prison and there will be no one to blame but the Department of Justice and the WA Government. That prisoner, who will most likely be an Indigenous male, will be yet another death in custody victim who will die in spite of the fact that there has been warning after warning issued about the hottest prison in Australia.


‘The system’s broken’: the crisis gripping Australia’s juvenile justice centres

10/10/22 The Guardian: This week WA’s corrective services minister, Bill Johnston, announced a review into the state’s juvenile justice legislation. But Neil Morgan Neil Morgan, who inspected WA’s adult prisons and its sole juvenile detention centre for more than a decade and tabled dozens of reports to government says:

“It’s inquiry after inquiry. We need some action.” “Now I think the government probably knows what needs to be done, which is to close Banksia Hill and have a plan to move to smaller, more trauma-informed facilities.


Banksia Hill class action imminent as more than 600 youth detainees raise case against WA Government

06/10/22 National Indigenous Times: More than 600 current and former Banksia Hill Detention Centre detainees will begin a class action in the Federal Court against the West Australian Government within two weeks, Levitt Robinson Solicitors announced Thursday. Stewart Levitt said the firm has also sought an urgent injunction to prevent any further transfer of children from Banksia Hill to Casuarina Prison’s Unit 18, noting the high rate of self-harm incidents in the unit.


Kumanjayi Walker inquest hears officer wouldn’t have called specialist team if she had known about racist texts

22/09/22 ABC: The officer in charge of the Yuendumu police station on the night Kumanjayi Walker died says she wouldn’t have allowed the unit Constable Zachary Rolfe was part of into the community if she had known any members of the team had exchanged racist texts


Judges go bush to learn about Indigenous culture, with aim to deliver fairer justice in courts

14/09/22 ABC: David Newry Nyoongoong is an accomplished Aboriginal elder, but he still remembers the day he was a skinny, scared 16-year-old boy appearing in court for the first time.


Indigenous lawyer ‘silenced’ after raising racism complaint against NSW legal service

31/08/22 National Indigenous Times: A long-serving Indigenous lawyer who went public with racism allegations against Legal Aid NSW says the service tried to silence her following an explosive news investigation.


Federal government urged to intervene in ‘dire’ WA child detention situation

25/08/22 National Indigenous Times: The law firm acting for Banksia Hill juvenile detention centre prisoners has urged the Federal Government to intervene in Western Australia’s management of incarcerated children.


Spotlight on Vic justice system after Aboriginal man dies in custody

12/08/22 SBS NITV: Victoria’s rate of Aboriginal incarceration is 13 times higher than the general population. The Premier says more needs to be done to overcome the ‘significant challenges’ that contribute.


NSW Police seek to rebuild relationship with Moree’s Aboriginal community after Gordon Copeland’s death

04/08/22 ABC: Gomeroi man Gordon Copeland drowned in the flood-swollen Gwydir River in Moree last July when he ran from police who had been following him and his two friends in a car.


Calls grow for urgent youth justice reform in WA amid govt push to move children into adult prison

17/07/22 National Indigenous Times: More than 75 community organisations have called on the West Australian government to enact immediate reform to the youth justice system in response to the government’s plan to shift 20 children, the youngest of whom is 14, to a maximum security adult prison.


Mililma wants to see Don Dale detention centre shut now. If not, she says she’ll empty it

02/07/22 SBS: Five years after a Royal Commission recommended it be shut down, the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin remains open, with four self-harm incidents taking place there in the past fortnight. One youth justice activist says there are better solutions.


Family of murdered baby receive apology, pardon from WA Attorney General

22/06/22 Apple News: The WA Attorney General has apologised to the mother and grandfather of an Aboriginal baby who was murdered in a horrific case of domestic violence in 2013. The police failed to intervene, and the baby was kidnapped. Ted, the child’s grandfather was also charged with assaulting police following the traumatic evening. The coroner investigated the death but did not hold an inquest. Mr Bell was sentenced to life in prison, but he died by suicide in 2015. Almost a decade on from Charlie’s murder, state Attorney General John Quigley has apologised to the family.


Horrified’: Wilcannia family searching for answers following young woman’s death

13/06/22 NITV News: The family of Lasonya Dutton is calling for a coronial inquest and a more thorough police investigation into the Barkindji woman’s death. The body of the 31-year-old was found in a badly decomposed state in her Wilcannia home in March. Ms Dutton’s family said the mother of two was a fun, happy-go-lucky woman, but three months after her death they’re still waiting for answers. Ms Dutton’s father Keith says he’s appalled by the way his family has been treated by Wilcannia police.


After 15 years of racism—chance to tear out the NT Intervention by the roots

26/05/22 Solidarity.net.au: This June marks 15 years since the Howard government began the NT Intervention, mobilising the army and introducing a wide swathe of racist, draconian controls over Aboriginal people and their lands.

Howard had long waged a war on self-determination and the gains of the Aboriginal rights movement made in the 1970s and 80s. The Intervention was the culmination of this, blaming Aboriginal culture for the social problems experienced in poverty-stricken communities and suspending the Racial Discrimination Act to re-establish Protection-era controls.


NSW Inquiry finds coroner’s court could prevent deaths in custody

05/05/22 SBS NITV:The New South Wales Coroner’s Court could help put a stop to Aboriginal deaths in custody by committing to systemic change, according to a state inquiry. The NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Coronial Jurisdiction found that the current Coroner’s Court system is overloaded and underfunded, and delivered 35 recommendations for improvement.


Damning Banksia Hill report ‘vindicates’ push for class action

29/04/22 National Indigenous Times: The latest report on conditions in Banksia Hill Detention Centre is a validation of the class action being built against the State of Western Australia, advocates say.


Solitary confinement ban urged in wake of damning WA youth jail report

22/04/22 National Indigenous Times: The shocking findings out of WA’s Banksia Hill youth detention facility brought before parliament on Tuesday have sparked renewed calls to end solitary confinement in Australia.


Demands to raise age after revelations NSW govt still locking up 11-year-olds

18/03/22 NITV: As the state government ruminates on raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12-years, children as young as 11 are being incarcerated, with over 50 per cent being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.


June Oscar backs call to stop cops carrying guns in communities

16/03/22 National Indigenous Times: It comes after Northern Territory policeman Zachary Rolfe was found not guilty of murder, manslaughter and a violent act causing death after shooting 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker three times in Yuendumu in 2019.


The sadness of Kumanjayi Walker’s family is a familiar sorrow for Aboriginal people

12/03/22 SBS NITV: The Supreme Court of the Northern Territory is a vast, cavernous structure held up by enormous white pillars on the curved edge of Australia’s northern capital. It sits adjacent to the Northern Territory Parliament, another giant building, which overlooks the turquoise waters of Darwin Harbour, on Larrakia country.


Goldfields Aboriginal women prisoners record Midnight Oil hit in language

08/02/22 ABC: The project was part of the Western Australian Department of Justice’s education program that was designed by staff and prisoners for Ngaanyatjarra speakers to translate English songs and also tell stories of their country as part of an album called Minymaku Kurturtukatja or Heart of a Woman.


Finding the Moree way

18/01/22 The Inside Story Summer reading: It’s still very much a town of the squattocracy,” says Lyall Munro, a local Kamilaroi leader. In this northwest NSW town his people have embarked on Australia’s latest bid to overcome that imbalance through a process known as justice reinvestment. 


Indigenous 11-year-old released from Don Dale detention centre as lawyer slams incarceration of children

21/12/21 The Guardian Australia: Lawyer calls for ‘lawful, peaceful civil disobedience’ in response to ‘disgraceful’ locking up of children around the country


Justice advocates note lack of progress on OPCAT as anniversary lingers

17/12/21 National Indigenous Times: There have been at least 500 Aboriginal deaths in custody since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody 30 years ago and healthcare has been a factor in many of them,” she said.Vic Aboriginal Legal Service claims that inappropriate treatment and denial of healthcare requests have led to Indigenous deaths in custody.


Inquest into Victorian death in custody of Aboriginal woman begins

17/12/21 National Indigenous Times: The Directions hearing into the death in custody of a Yamatji, Noongar, Wongi and Pitjantjatjara woman begins in Naarm today.


‘Cautious optimism’ over NSW pilot program to reduce Indigenous jail rates

22/11/21 SBS: A pilot program announced in NSW is aiming to reduce the stark over-representation of Indigenous people in Australia’s criminal justice system.


Incarceration Nation: how our judicial system punishes the Indigenous

29/08/21 The Age: Indigenous deaths in custody since the 1991 Royal Commission: 478. Percentage of Indigenous prisoners: 27. Percentage of juvenile prisoners aged 10-13: 65. We know the numbers. We’ve seen the shocking CCTV footage from inside cells on Four Corners. We talk about raising the age of criminal responsibility. We take to the streets motivated by the police killing of an African-American man halfway across the world. We shake our heads, and still, systemic racism churns on, destroying the lives of First Nations people.


The Project host Tony Armstrong slams ‘racist’ Australia

29/08/21 news.com.au: After airing a segment about the high incarceration rates of Indigenous Australians, Tony Armstrong slams the nation for still being ‘racist’.


A National Disgrace: Most First Nations kids won’t witness equality on incarceration in their lifetime

05/08/21 ABC: It may surprise some Australians that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys born in the Northern Territory and Western Australia have a shorter life expectancy than boys born in Iraq, Libya and the West Bank and Gaza. Born into a nation racked by decades of war, Iraqi boys can expect to live to 68 while in resource-rich, First-World Western Australia, the average Indigenous boy won’t live to see 67.