NSW indigenous advocates say the recent Black Lives Matter protests highlight the state’s need to establish the Walama Court as a means of addressing the over-representation of aboriginal people in the criminal justice system.
The Walama Court is a model which involves cooperation between elders and judges to divert aboriginal people away from the criminal justice system by focusing on rehabilitation rather than punishment.
According to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research custody statistics from March this year, indigenous people make up 2.8 per cent of Australia’s population but represented about 25 per cent of adults in custody in NSW.
Designed to reduce the number of aboriginal people in custody, traditional customs and cultural knowledge would be embedded in Walama Court process, with increased supervision orders and support programs suggested in sentencing as opposed to prison time.
NSW Bar Association president Tim Game SC says the Walama Court would decrease imprisonment and reoffending rates in indigenous persons in NSW and would also deliver cost savings to taxpayers.
“The proposal is supported by a sound business case, prepared by the Walama Working Group,” Mr Game said in a statement on Wednesday.
“It also has the support of the Police Association of NSW, the Law Council of Australia, the Australian Law Reform Commission’s 2018 Pathways to Justice Inquiry and the 2020 Special Commission of Inquiry on ‘Ice’.
“We already have a Youth Koori Court which was expanded by the NSW Government because of its acknowledged success. Implementation (of the Walama Court) should not be delayed any longer.”
A business case was presented to the NSW government through Attorney-General Mark Speakman’s office in 2018, although legislation has not been raised or passed in state parliament for its establishment.
Credit: Source link