A STATE Government taskforce established to improve safety in Indigenous communities and reduce Indigenous incarceration rates held its first meeting in far north Queensland this week.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Curtis Pitt attended the inaugural meeting of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice Taskforce at Lotus Glen Correctional Centre near Mareeba.
Mr Pitt said the taskforce is implementing the State Government's Just Futures 2012-2015 Strategy launched in December last year.
"Just Futures aims to tackle the over-representation of Indigenous people in Queensland's criminal justice system, as both offenders and victims," Mr Pitt said.
The strategy, Mr Pitt said, would include practical, on-the-ground actions to address the underlying causes and consequences of crime.
"This includes focusing on local community safety planning, more support for families, education and employment strategies.
"There's also a strong focus on improving rehabilitation including transitions from prison and increasing Indigenous involvement in law enforcement.
"The taskforce is made up of 12 highly respected individuals and is being co-chaired by Garth Morgan and Napcia Bin Tahal.
"Mr Morgan is the Executive Director of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Human Services Coalition, and Councillor Bin Tahal is the Deputy Mayor of the Torres Shire Council.
"Like all taskforce members, they share a passion for making a lasting difference in Queensland's Indigenous communities," he said.
Mr Pitt said Just Futures outlines 48 actions and improvements to current services which seek to address the underlying causes of Indigenous over-representation, at every point within and outside the criminal justice system.
Key priorities include:
- Building stronger and more resilient communities;
- Prevention and early intervention for children and young people;
- Improving training, education and employment; and
- Ensuring culturally appropriate and responsive administration of justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are still close to 12 times more likely to be in prison than non-Indigenous people," Mr Pitt said.
"This is unacceptable, and we're working to reverse this trend through initiatives like the Jail to Jobs program.
"This initiative will deliver traineeships, apprenticeships and employment to 200 Indigenous people upon leaving jail each year - around a quarter of Indigenous prisoners exiting prison."
Mr Pitt said the State Government has already committed $175,000 in seed funding to support Community Safety Planning in the discrete Indigenous communities.
"This seed funding will be used by Indigenous Local Councils, Community Justice Groups and discrete Indigenous communities to support community safety planning," he said.
"It's critical we recognise that the Queensland Government cannot reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the criminal justice system alone.
"Everyone has a role to play - from all levels of government, the public sector and business to non-government organisations, communities and individuals."
For more information on Just Futures visit www.communities.qld.gov.au