Law Council welcomes commitment of Commonwealth funding for Custody Notification Service (CNS)
The following statement can be attributed to Law Council of Australia President Duncan McConnel:
- The Law Council of Australia has welcomed the commitment of Commonwealth funding to ensure the continuation of the Custody Notification Service (CNS), provided by the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT), until 2019.
- The CNS is a vital service, commenced after the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991. There have been no Aboriginal deaths in police custody while the service has been in operation.
- The CNS provides the mechanism for police to notify the ALS after the arrest of Aboriginal persons, to ensure those people have access to legal assistance and advice and do not remain in custody longer than is necessary.
- The continuation of this service is vital, given the ever-increasing numbers of Aboriginal people arrested in NSW and the ACT each year.
- The Law Council is pleased that the Australian Government has moved beyond its dispute with the NSW Government over funding for the CNS. This service is far too important to be placed at risk due to disagreement around state and federal funding responsibility.
- Catastrophically high Indigenous imprisonment rates and the urgent need for government action have been highlighted recently by:
- The launch of the Australian Medical Association’s Indigenous Health Report Card on 25 November 2015, demonstrating the destructive impact of imprisonment on Indigenous health outcomes;
- The Law Council’s Indigenous Imprisonment Symposium on 26 November 2015, an important discussion about the drivers and solutions to the imprisonment crisis; and
- The launch of the Change the Record ‘Blueprint for Change’ – a critical document which provides governments with a roadmap out of Indigenous imprisonment.
- These events have brought into sharp focus the need for urgent action, the importance of delivering certainty to Indigenous-led programs, and the need for greater cooperation between the Commonwealth and States and Territories, which would be assured by the adoption of a COAG ‘Closing the Gap’ justice target.