26 September 2023

Magistrates caught with reconciliation plan

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The Magistrates Court of Queensland’s new Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) has been launched with a key focus on reducing the overrepresentation of First Nations people in the State’s criminal justice system.

Commenting on the new RAP which she said gave further opportunities to partner with First Nations people and develop culturally appropriate initiatives within Courts, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman called for all to work towards reducing their contact with the criminal justice system.

“We’ve all heard the alarming statistics about the overrepresentation of First Nations people in our criminal justice system,” Ms Fentiman said.

“Despite representing 4.6 per cent of Queenslanders, last year just over 19 per cent of defendants who appeared before Magistrates Courts identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander,” she said.

“Almost half of all defendants appearing in the Children’s Court and 15 per cent of aggrieved parties in applications for a domestic violence order last financial year identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.”

Ms Fentiman said the Magistrates Court’s new RAP sets out meaningful actions and practical steps to address barriers that exist for First Nations peoples who come into contact with the Courts.

“It details a commitment not only to improve justice services and access to those services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but also to provide opportunities and support for Indigenous staff,” she said.

The Attorney-General said the Court’s 2022-2025 RAP contained 17 actions and 86 deliverables to further promote and embed reconciliation in the Magistrates Court jurisdiction.

“This includes working with First Nations communities to design specific perpetrator interventions and look at solutions to reduce the disproportionate rate of First Nations women as victims of domestic and family violence as well as accused persons,” Ms Fentiman said.

“To undertake this important work, we will also establish the Office of the Chief First Nations Justice Officer.”

The new 29-page Reconciliation Action Plan for the Magistrates Court of Queensland can be accessed at this PS News link.

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