Everyone should be able to live their lives being treated equally and fairly, regardless of their race, their bank balance or where they come from.
But in an attempt to appear “tough on crime”, successive Victorian State Governments have brought in oppressive bail laws that are jailing record numbers of people for minor offences linked to disadvantage. As a result, First Nations people and people from underprivileged communities are being unfairly targeted and imprisoned more than ever before.
Since the current Victorian Government came into power in 2014, the imprisonment of First Nations people has increased by 70%. And with First Nations people 10 times more likely to die in police custody, this is a matter of life and death.
Now more than ever, people in our community from all walks of life need to join in solidarity and send a message to the Victorian Government, that everyone should be free to live their life without worrying if they’ll end up in jail because of the colour of their skin or how much money they have.
First Nations organisations – including Change the Record, and Aboriginal Legal Services across the nation – are campaigning for the following changes to Victoria’s justice laws. Please support their campaign and take action.
I’m backing these Aboriginal communities in their calls to:
- End the mass imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by repealing the punitive bail laws jailing people accused of minor crimes that wouldn’t normally get a prison sentence.
- Abolish the crime of public drunkenness which disproportionately imprisons First Nations people, and provide health support instead.
- Raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 to stop children being imprisoned, in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Stop police investigating police, including when people die in police custody, and to monitor racial profiling, by making police record and report the race of people they stop.
- Stop all forms of mandatory sentencing, and give judges more sentencing options, other than just prison, so they can deliver the best sentence for the community.
- Ban all forms of solitary confinement of children in detention, which is extremely damaging to young people.
- Support the most marginalised and disadvantaged communities by building desperately needed public housing, and boosting under-funded public education and mental health services (instead of spending billions more on new prisons).
- Deliver on Victoria’s obligations under the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), to create a National Prevention Mechanism (NPM) to uphold human rights in places of detention.
Everyone in our community deserves fair and equal treatment, no matter who you are or how much money you have. By listening to First Nations communities and implementing these reforms, we can go a long way to creating a more equal and fair society.