Letter to Hon. Gerry McCarthy MLA from Priscilla Collins Chief Executive Officer North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency NAAJA's response to the New Era in Corrections dated 23 February 2011
Tabled paper 1429
Tabled Papers for 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
Tabled By Gerald McCarthy
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.
Recommendation 1: Violent offenders should be eligible for Community Custody Orders and Community Based Orders. NAAJA supports the introduction of more sentencing options. In particular, we consider the introduction of Community Custody Orders and Community Based Orders to be a positive step in the direction of reducing Aboriginal incarceration rates. However, NAAJA queries why violent offenders are precluded from having their matters finalised by way of these two new sentencing dispositions. By removing violent offenders from the category of people eligible for these dispositions, the Government is excluding a large number of the offending population who require rehabilitative and supported intervention. We would urge Government to give the judiciary discretion for first or minor violent offenders, who may be considered by the courts as suitable for Community Custody or Community Based Orders. NAAJA submits that it is precisely this category of offender who are most suitable to community-based intensive intervention. Recommendation 2: Community Corrections should adopt a culturally responsive approach to supervising Aboriginal offenders: the role of Community Corrections Officers should be redefined to operate more as mentors rather than statutory compliance officers. NAAJA considers it important that the role of Corrections Officers be changed from a compliance focus to that of a mentoring role. We endorse the recent comments of the New Zealand Chief Justice, Sean Elias, who noted the current over-emphasis on compliance, policing and risk assessment by Corrections Officers. She rather suggested that '...the functions of advising, assisting and befriending ought to be reinstated.1 A compliance based approach results in many Aboriginal people having their supervisory orders breached. Many Aboriginal people do not have consistent access to telephones or appropriate housing. Many Aboriginal people may struggle to balance their cultural obligations with the conditions of their Corrections order. For example, a person may be required to attend a funeral or other cultural business, even if they have a direction to remain at one particular community. While NAAJA recognises that offenders cannot be permitted to flout conditions of an order, it is important that orders and the manner in which they are enforced are responsive to the cultural and social context of offenders. Such an approach is consistent with Strategy 1.1.3 of the NILJF, namely [to] eliminate discriminatory attitudes, practices and impacts where they exist within police, youth 1 Available at, < lni|)://www.cotinsornz.iiQvt.nz/si3ecchpaocrs/Shii,lev%20Smitli%202009%20lecture- B)ameless%20Babes-9%20Ju)v%202009.pdf>. Last accessed 4 December 2010. Tougher Sentencing Options 3 http://www.cotinsornz.iiQvt.nz/si3ecchpaocrs/Shii,lev%20Smitli%202009%20lecture