Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter

Close the Gap report calls for reform

A NEW report has pushed to overhaul parts of the justice system in a bid to create equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The annual Close the Gap report released yesterday called for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised nationally and for governments to take a preventive and rehabilitative approach to incarceration.

The Queensland government has repeatedly said it would not change the age of criminal responsibility.

This comes as Townsville hosts a committee hearing for the Queensland Government's new youth justice reforms designed to crack down on repeat and serious young offenders.

Townsville has battled systemic crime issues for some time, with a small group of repeat offenders responsible for a large portion of youth offending in the city.

Each year, the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee for Indigenous Health Equality looks at the overall health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

While this year's report by the Lowitja Institute focused on the coronavirus pandemic, it also pushed for changes to the justice system with the Black Lives Matter movement dominating headlines in 2020.

Townsville hosted a Black Lives Matter rally at Strand Park last year. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.
Townsville hosted a Black Lives Matter rally at Strand Park last year. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.

The report pushes for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised from 10 to 14 years.

The report also found "political inaction" on incarceration.

The Queensland government is reviewing new legislation which will require some offenders aged 16 and 17 to wear electronic monitoring devices as a condition of bail, it will create a presumption against bail and seek assurances from parents and guardians on bail.

On National Close the Gap Day, yesterday, Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford said the government recognised calls from First Nations people to progress towards a more inclusive and just future for Indigenous Australians.

"Self-determination and community-led decision-making is at the heart of Queensland's Path to Treaty, Local Thriving Communities reform and our state's role in the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap," he said.

The Minister added the state government invested $9.3m over four years as part of the National Closing the Gap Agreement to help strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services.

"Community-controlled services employ more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and give people access to culturally appropriate services needed to support individuals, families and communities to thrive," Mr Crawford said.

 

Originally published as Close the Gap report calls for reform



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