26 September 2023

Black lives to count in Victoria

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Federal funding is being provided to establish a formal Custody Notification Service (CNS) for Indigenous Australians in Victoria.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt said the $2.1 million funding over three years was a key move towards preventing Indigenous deaths in custody.

“Custody notification services are a critical step in ensuring culturally appropriate care is provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people detained by police,” Mr Wyatt said.

“Every case is one too many, and it underlines how important it is that Governments across Australia work together to achieve better outcomes for Indigenous Australians.”

He said mandatory calls to a CNS ensured all necessary actions were taken to safeguard Indigenous people in a culturally safe way and importantly, constituted part of a holistic welfare check.

“I thank the Victorian Government on taking the significant step to legislate this critical, life-saving service and the additional protections that it brings,” Mr Wyatt said.

“This funding will enable a dedicated team to provide health and welfare support and basic legal advice for Indigenous Australians for the first three years of its operation.”

Mr Wyatt said Custody Notification Services complemented broader work on tackling the drivers of incarceration through the Closing the Gap framework.

He said the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, which already provides an informal version of the CNS, will deliver the expanded service.

Mr Wyatt said that as well as establishing the CNS in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, the Commonwealth was continuing funding to CNS in NSW and the ACT.

“I renew calls for Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania to introduce the CNS in their jurisdictions,” the Minister said.

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