Aboriginal Affairs & Reconciliation

GREENS MOVE FOR A LIFESAVING CUSTODY NOTIFICATION SERVICE – CALL OUT ALP FOR INACTION

Media Releases, Newsroom

Today the Greens have introduced legislation that would establish a strong and enforceable Custody Notification Service (CNS) administered by the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (ALRM) in South Australia.

A CNS is a 24-hour service that provides life-saving legal advice and welfare checks and support for Aboriginal people as they are taken into custody. A CNS was just one of the 339 recommendations made by the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Despite offers made by Minister Scullion to all states and territories in 2016 to fund a mandated and legislated scheme the then SA Government persisted with a flawed and weaker voluntary model (Aboriginal Visitors Scheme – AVS). Establishing a legislated CNS in South Australia would bring us in line with other states such as the ACT, WA, NT, NSW, and Victoria.

Quotes attributable to Tammy Franks MLC:

On the CNS:

“Just this week we saw the ALRM and the Aboriginal Visitors Scheme denied access to the Port Adelaide Police Station when offering support to a young Kilburn man held for 8 hours before being released with no charge.

“We suspect that in several examples in SA of Aboriginal deaths in custody a CNS may well have saved lives. I don’t want to wait for another inquest to be needed before we act.

“Let’s as a Parliament now act to prevent harm and provide care when an ATSI person comes into custody rather than cry crocodile tears and wring our hands after they die in our custody.

On the Labor Party Bill:

“The Labor Party in Parliament were called out by the Greens for their inaction today on this. Their Bill for a CNS is simply far too little and far too late from them given that when they were in Government (2016) they did not take up the Federal Government’s offer to fund our state to establish a CNS, if we simply legislated to enforce it.

“The fact that we don’t already have a CNS is mind boggling. That Labor has now introduced a Bill and written to the Premier calling for his support is the height of hypocrisy, when they could have done it back in 2016 at no cost to the state!

“Labor’s Bill is little better than our current non-mandated scheme. Operating on goodwill and permissions that may not be given and with all the enforceability of a slap on the wrist with a wet lettuce leaf where there is police non-compliance with the life-saving scheme. We need to get tough on justice and equality and get on with this life-saving scheme in an accountable and enforceable format.”

The Greens and Labor Bills:

  • Requires that the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (ALRM) are notified where an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person is taken into custody and provided with the following information where it is known:
    • The prisoner’s full name
    • The prisoner’s date of birth or approximate age
    • Any medical or other condition of which the prescribed police officer is aware that may be affected by the incarceration of the prisoner
    • Details of the police station or designated police facility at which the prisoner is being held

The Greens Bill also:

  • Requires the ALRM to be advised if the prisoner in question has been moved before they have been able to receive a visit from the ALRM
  • Includes a maximum penalty of $2500- or 6-months imprisonment for a prescribed officer who, without reasonable excuse, contravenes or fails to comply with these requirements
  • Requires the Police Commissioner to include the following information in their annual report:
    • The number of notifications made to the ALRM
    • The number of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander persons held by each police station or designated police facility
    • The number of times a charge is laid for an offence where a prescribed police officer has failed to comply with or contravenes requirements of this Bill
    • Any other information requested by the Minister

Media Contact: Tammy Franks – 0457 549 938