One year to the day mother Della Roe lost her daughter – bad laws cost her life and need to be done away with – Photo, Sebastian Neuweiler, au.news.yahoo.com

One year to the day mother Della Roe lost her daughter – bad laws cost her life and need to be done away with – Photo, Sebastian Neuweiler, au.news.yahoo.com

Last year I founded a campaign to urge of the implementation of the Custody Notification Service (CNS) across the nation but without delay in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. In meeting Federal Ministers and State Governments I implored the wisdom of this move – in reference to the saving of lives. In NSW, the CNS has led to zero lives lost of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders detained in police watch houses – since 1998. What more need be written or said?

The cost of the CNS on an annual basis is a little more than a half million Australian dollars – equivalent to a coronial inquiry or two! So why then the excruciating slow journey to its implementation in Western Australia and the Northern Territory and right throughout the nation?

Federal Labor Senator Sue Lines recently tabled a motion acknowledging the success of the New South Wales CNS and that the Government should ensure long-term funding to the CNS. It is unfathomable to prosper any logic as to why this has not occurred. It is deplorable that the NSW/ACT Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS) have to knock themselves out every so often in fighting to renew funding for this vital service. The CNS ensures immediate contact between trained CNS lawyers from the ALS and the detainees to ensure their immediate and longer term legal, health and welfare rights. The CNS lawyers are trained in identifying suicidal ideation, in dealing with anxieties, de-escalating difficult situations. Psychosocially and psychologically the detainee knows they are not alone, that someone is there for them. This serves the interests not only of the detainee but also of the police who should not be burdened by various judgments especially around health and welfare where they may lack substantive expertise. If there had been a stout CNS advocate for Ms Dhu, well she may well be here with us today instead of the deplorable and tragic death she suffered at Western Australia’s South Hedland Police Station – August 4, 2015. Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Senator Nigel Scullion believes strongly in the CNS and personally lobbied the Attorney-General, George Brandis to renew its funding. Questions need to be asked of the Attorney-General. Without the long-term funding of the CNS in NSW, Minister Brandis is playing with people’s lives.

In Western Australia, the State Labor Party at its recent State Conference committed to funding and implementing a CNS once they are in Government. In the meantime the Western Australian Government has undertaken a Justice Working Party commitment to establish a long overdue CNS, among other promises, but the process is dragging on – why? Good on Labor for committing to the CNS but they must urge the State Government to implement the CNS immediately.

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders have to deal with all sorts of inequalities – racial and economic. Far too many live in extreme poverty in this otherwise affluent nation, the world’s 12th largest economy. While the inequalities remain unaddressed, the suite of poverty-related issues will continue to bring before the criminal justice system outrageous disproportionate numbers of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders – leading to racialised imprisonment. Up to one in six Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders living have been to jail. This is a moral and political abomination. In the meantime, while Australian Governments continue to neglect the racial and economic inequalities, the CNS is a no-brainer.

The CNS was a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody – Final Report 1992.

 

To find out more about the CNS click here – Custody Notification Service NSW/ACT ALS 

More reading:

There are no words for your loss

One in ten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander have been to jail

At long last

Custody Notification Service prevents Aboriginal deaths in police cell custody | The Stringer

Premier Barnett, you promised – In the name of Ms Dhu, where are the Custody Notification Service & the end to jailing fine defaulters? | The Stringer

The Custody Notification Service helps everyone – police and detainee | The Stringer

Custody notification service will continue in NSW but please hurry it up for WA

We are about to stop jailing fine defaulters to the critics do not naively criticise this away

Custody Notification Service will continue in NSW – but please hurry it up for WA | The Stringer

Family of Ms Dhu applaud Scullion in urging Western Australia to implement Custody Notification Service | The Stringer

Western Australia urged to stop jailing fine defaulters | The Stringer

Family of Ms Dhu still waiting for answers | The Stringer

Custody Notification Service in WA will save lives says ALSWA CEO, Dennis Eggington | The Stringer

Family calls for justice for Ms Dhu – rallies across Australia

Scullion may lead way with rolling out the Custody Notification Service nationally

In the name of Julieka Dhu, the Custody Notification Service should rolled out nationally

Unpaid fines destroy lives with jail time

22-year-old police death in custody should not have occurred

Death in police custody – Custody Notification Service should be implemented nationwide

Custody Notification Service in WA will save lives says ALSWA CEO, Dennis Eggington | The Stringer