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Date posted: 6 January 2014
Indigenous leader Warren Mundine promises to advocate for mandatory diversionary programs to push Indigenous juvenile offenders into jobs and education amid proposed budget cuts to Indigenous affairs spending.
During an interview with The Australian today, Mr Mundine said that, although he actively opposed the cuts to Aboriginal legal aid announced last month, his opposition was not ideological and he wanted spending to be subjected to an audit to examine if it was delivering the outcomes promised.
Indigenous academic and leader Marcia Langton, who is heading the Abbott government’s Indigenous jobs review with Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew Forrest, supports Mr Mundine's idea of auditing programs to ensure they made a real difference to the lives of Indigenous people. She stated 'The legal aid approach by itself will do little to lower Indigenous prison incarceration and juvenile detention rates. Early childhood health and education programs should be top priority.'
Mr Mundine reiterates, 'Legal aid is vital, but it deals with the problem at the tail end, we need to tackle this problem right at the beginning, with swift and early intervention for first offenders through diversionary programs, even if they are minor offences... Education and the jobs are the key.'
He said, 'The main issue is the outcomes achieved for Indigenous people, outcomes such as real jobs, school attendance and closing the gaps in health, education and incarceration. Here’s an example. About 10 years ago, I sat on the NSW Attorney General’s juvenile crime prevention committee. Research presented to the committee pointed to a common conclusion - send a juvenile offender to detention and in most cases you have them for life; they’ll invariably be in and out of the system forever. However, put them into a diversionary program where they instead go into a job or education that they must complete instead of jail and in most cases you never see them again.'
Source: NACCHO News
National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
National Communications and Media Advisor
Ph: (02) 6246 9309
Fax: (02) 6248 0744