DownUnderAllOver

DownUnderAllOver

Developments around the country

DownUnderAllOver is a round-up of legal news from both State and federal jurisdictions, and contains topical articles and short pieces from Alternative Law Journal committees around the country.

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Closure of Aboriginal Communities

Steven Castan
Western Australia

In other news, continuing uncertainty and speculation as to which remote Aboriginal communities will be closed in WA is causing distress and anxiety in those communities.

Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda has called on the Premier to engage in proper and full consultation with Indigenous people, as he promised. Such consultation has not occurred even though the plan to close many remote communities was announced earlier in the year.

(2015) 40(2) AltLJ 143

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Police to provide stop and search receipts

Robert Corr
Victoria

The hard work of the Flemington-Kensington Community Legal Centre in challenging racist policing has borne fruit, with Victoria Police agreeing to implement a pilot program for issuing receipts when exercising stop-and-search powers.

The FKCLC has been lobbying for the introduction of stop-and-search receipts since 2010. In 2013, the FKCLC subpoenaed then Chief Commissioner Ken Lay to give evidence about racial profiling by Victoria Police. Instead, the Federal Court case was settled and Victoria Police agreed to engage in a community consultation process.

The Receipting Proof of Concept program is a direct result of that consultation process. Police and Protective Services Officers will be required where the officer initiates the contact, they request a name and address, and no ‘law enforcement outcome’ such as an arrest or infringement notice is otherwise recorded.

(2015) 40(2) AltLJ 143

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Indigenous incarceration: a ‘catastrophe’

Steven Castan
Western Australia

In related news, the issue of over-representation of Indigenous Australians in prisons is, according to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda, a ‘catastrophe’ which left him shocked.

Statistics released by the federal governments Productivity Commission in November show a 57 per cent rise in incarceration rates among Indigenous men, women and children over the past 15 years with the conclusion that, nationally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are 15 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous Australian.

‘That is a catastrophe in anyone’s language,’ said Mr Gooda. In his 2014 Social Justice and Native Title Report, Mr Gooda urged the federal government to adopt a justice target in its Closing the Gap strategy that would reduce the current rate of Indigenous incarceration.

(2015) 40(1) AltLJ 66

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What can we expect from the Andrews government?

Robert Corr
Victoria

On 29 November 2014, the Victorian electorate voted to install the Andrews Labor Government. The new parliament has only sat for one essentially ceremonial day since then, but its early administrative acts — in particular the creation of two new portfolios within the Department of Premier and Cabinet — give a strong sense of its priorities.

(2015) 40(1) AltLJ 65

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Aboriginal recognition in Tasmanian Constitution

The Tasmanian Committee
Tasmania

Opposition Aboriginal Affairs spokeswoman Madeleine Ogilvie has prepared a private member’s Bill which seeks to amend the state constitution to recognise Aborigines as ‘Tasmania’s first peoples’ and ‘traditional owners and occupants’. The Bill also recognises the importance of Aboriginal ‘spiritual, social, cultural and heritage beliefs, languages and laws’ and their ‘unique and irreplaceable contribution to the State’. The Bill has the backing of the Opposition Labor caucus and discussions with the government are ongoing in an attempt to develop a bipartisan position. However, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre chief executive Heather Sculthorpe and Aboriginal activist Michael Mansell have described the plan as a wasted exercise if the amendments do not lead to the creation of additional rights or impose obligations on the government.

(2015) 40(1) AltLJ 65

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