VALS KEY ELECTION ASKS
The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service continues to strongly advocate on justice issues that are pertinent to Aboriginal communities across the state of Victoria. As such, we have developed this election document in order to bring to the attention of all parties contesting the 2018 state election the justice issues facing Aboriginal communities. Recent legislative changes to aspects of the justice system under the rhetoric of ‘tough on crime’ – such as a tightening of the Bail Act, and a shift towards the introduction of mandatory sentencing – means that we all have a responsibility to tackle what has long been the greatest inequality in our society: the ever-increasing over-incarceration of Aboriginal men, women and children. While the state government has committed to lowering the numbers of Aboriginal men, women and children in prison, recent legislation has ensured that instead, these numbers are set to increase, thus perpetuating the greatest ongoing inequality in our country – the mass incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service calls on all parties to formulate policies that are aimed to alleviate and eradicate this inequality. As such, we provide this pre-election ‘policy priorities and commitments’ paper to guide the development of party policies. We call for an immense shift in policy development, one that is based on a true commitment to self-determination and develops legislation in close consultation with Aboriginal communities, and that tackles the underlying causes of incarceration. The state’s political parties have a responsibility to rectify this gross injustice and reverse this downward spiral. The election asks included in this document are not simply a wish list, but a comprehensive road map to reform based on decades of experience of Aboriginal peoples and comprehensive legal scholarship.
We invite each political party to work with us to create a future in this state where Aboriginal people share the same life opportunities as all Victorians, and where equality is a reality, not just an aspiration.
VALS NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT
VALS is an Aboriginal community controlled organisation operating Statewide in Victoria, providing community justice services and legal practice services to all Victorian Aboriginal community.
In the face of limited government funding, we need your support to expand our work. Despite numerous parliamentary inquiries and government bodies being established, not enough has been done to change outcomes for Aboriginal communities. For example:
– Aboriginal women now comprise the fastest growing segment of the Victorian prison population and are also more likely to return to prison and more likely to be in prison on remand.
– Our young people are being harmed. Victoria has one of the highest substantiation rates for child protection, and when our young people are in child protection, they are removed from their family, community and cultural connection, growing up with no sense of identity or knowledge of their history. Aboriginal youth are 26 times more likely to be in youth detention than any other child in Australia.
– Our people continue to report negative experiences with over-policing and police misconduct, including a lack of accountability and action when they do pursue complaints through formal channels.
Our brave client’s story below highlights some of the issues our clients face, and what VALS is doing to advocate for their rights, and change the system as a whole.
We know that consistent pressure, in the courts and through policy advocacy can effect change. We need your support to ensure we keep this pressure up. Every dollar you donate goes directly towards achieving better outcomes for our communities.
Are donations tax deductible? Yes
Will I receive a receipt for my donation? Yes, immediately sent to you by email when approved.
Legal advice/representation if you have to go to court or are charged.
Discrimination, police wrong-doing
We provide advice about child welfare and family issued.