Greens MP Jamie Parker has slammed the NSW Liberal government for failing to fund a life-saving legal advice line for Aboriginal people who have been taken into police custody.
“The Federal government has cut funding and now the NSW government is refusing to accept responsibility, despite the fact that the requirement for the service is legislated under state law,” Mr Parker said.
“Vulnerable people are being put at risk because governments in this country cannot be shaken into action.
“The Custody Notification Service was created as a crucial reform following the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody to ensure that the rights and welfare of Aboriginal people in custody are maintained.
“Two decades after the landmark Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, most of the 339 recommendations for reform still have not been implemented. This service is a rare example of a positive and effective reform that resulted from the Royal Commission and we must ensure it continues.
“The annual cost of this basic and invaluable service is equal to holding a two people in detention for one year.
“This Government found $300 million in tax breaks for the poker machine industry, $19 million to allow hunting in national parks, while also choosing to support big developers by way of tax gifts, incentives and exemptions, but it cannot find $500,000 for this service.
“We must recognise the injustices that our legal system has visited upon Aboriginal people over many generations, including the Stolen Generation, the unforgiveable and continuing gap in health, education and social outcomes of our Indigenous population, and the disproportionate rate of incarceration.
“I implore Premier O'Farrell and the Attorney General to recognise the need this service and to take responsibility for funding it,” Mr Parker said.
About the Custody Notification Service:
Under NSW law, the police must contact the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) every time an Aboriginal person is detained. The detained person is given the opportunity to talk to a qualified ALS lawyer and is advised of his or her rights in custody, as well as his or her legal situation. The lawyer can talk to police on behalf of the detained person, contact family and friends, and ascertain whether the detained person is okay.
Full speech transcript:
Media contact: Alison Martin 0432 941 533
May 29, 2013 at 12pm