• Labor's spokesperson for families and social services Linda Burney. (AAP)Source: AAP
Justice reinvestment programs could receive a major boost after the next federal election with the Labor Party pledging more than $90m in reforms.
Sarah Collard

15 Apr 2021 - 11:13 AM  UPDATED 15 Apr 2021 - 11:13 AM

Justice reinvestment programs could receive a major boost after the next federal election with the Labor  Party pledging more than $90m in reforms.  

The announcement comes 30 years after the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down it's final report in April 1991. 

The federal Opposition says the multi-million dollar investment over four years would tackle the social and economic drivers of disadvantage contributing to the high rates of Indigenous peoples behind bars. 

Labor pledges millions to reduce incarceration rates 

Wiradjuri woman and Indigenous affairs Labor spokesperson Linda Burney said the current system is not working for First Nations people. 

"We can't go forward as a nation when you have the level of incarceration of First Nations people and the levels of deaths in custody. 

"One of the real issues that contributes to incarceration is inter-generational trauma, the amount of children removed... homelessness - the underlying issues that contribute towards people in jail."

Ms Burney said further investments at the local and state levels are needed to bring down the incarceration rate of Indigenous peoples. 

Labor said it will boost funding for communities around the country to establish justice reinvestment programs from 2023, and expand current services aimed at reducing crime, homelessness, family violence and rehabilitation programs.  

"We know that justice reinvestment works... Rates of domestic violence has gone down, school attendance has increased, where there have major decreases in all the prime categories - it tackles the underlying issues to keep people out of the justice system." Ms Burney said. 

Labor also said it would create a real-time reporting national system to record any person that dies in police or prison custody through the Attorney-General department. 

"There is no-one that takes responsibility or who was accountable for who had died in custody, why they died and when they died."

"There is no central system for real time reporting of any death in custody" Linda Burney told NITV News. 

Labor has also pledged $13.4 million for colonial inquests in what it said would be a more inclusive and responsive system for First Nations people. 

Under the plan unveiled on Thursday, Labor said it will also allocate specific funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services to improve access to culturally appropriate legal assistance throughout the colonial inquiry processes. 

Fed government announces CNS boost 

The federal government, together with states and territories, said it is committed to reducing the rate of incarcerated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults by 15 percent in the next ten years through the Closing the Gap targets. 

The Australian government announced it will invest $2.4 million over the next three years to establish Custody Notification Services in South Australia from July and boosting funding in the Northern Territory and Victoria. 

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt said in a statement that the federal government is committed to tackling the underlying causes leading to the over-incarceration rates. 

First Nations people continue to be one of the most incarcerated peoples on earth, with numbers nearly doubling since the Royal Commission’s findings were tabled in Parliament three decades ago. 

It's estimated 474 First Nations men and women have died in prisons, watch-houses and policy custody since 1991 — including five people since March. 

'It's always inside of you like a scar': Pat family demands urgent action to stop deaths in custody
John Pat's family is devastated the number of Aboriginal death's in custody continues to climb, almost 40 years after the violent death of the Yindjibarndi teenager sparked a nationwide call to action and triggered a Royal Commission.