More Education NOT Incarceration- The Queensland Law Society strengthens calls for justice reforms & targets.


Indigenous incarceration costs almost double price of uni education

Queensland Law Society Media Release:

Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts has called for reforms to reduce the nation’s appalling rate of indigenous imprisonment – saying it costs taxpayers almost twice as much to lock people up than provide them with an elite university education.

Mr Potts said it was time for the state and federal governments to set “aspirational targets’’ to reduce incarceration of indigenous Australians and implement strategies and policies to guarantee positive outcomes.

He said the current estimated cost of incarceration in Queensland was $66,000 per prisoner each year – while the cost of keeping a person fed, clothed, with a roof over their head and a university education was about $38,000.

Federal Productivity Commission figures from 2013/14 show the number of Indigenous Australians imprisoned was 16 times higher than non-Indigenous people.

The call follows the recent announcement by the Northern Territory Government to set justice targets aimed at halving the rate of Aboriginal imprisonment by 2030 and a call by the Law Council of Australia for state and federal intergovernmental action.

“Statistics show that it costs more to incarcerate a person for five years than it would to send them to one of Queensland’s best universities. I know how I’d rather my taxes be spent,’’ Mr Potts said.

“Courts like the Murri Court and the Drug Court have been successful in reducing reoffending and incarceration, and it is good to see them on the way back in Queensland.

“Keeping indigenous people out of the prison system through these rehabilitation measures will give them a chance at a better life – and it’s simply good economics. From our point of view, it is much better to educate than incarcerate.’’

View Media Release in Full

Change the Record

Change The Record Coalition meeting in Sydney today calls for national action on justice issues

MEDIA RELEASE – 25.02.16

A coalition of  organisations meeting in Sydney today have called for national action on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment and violence rates, following recent positive initiatives by governments in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.  The group includes leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, human rights and legal organisations.

Change the Record Coalition Co-Chair Shane Duffy said, “In the past few weeks, positive steps forward have been taken. We welcome for instance the inclusion of justice targets in the Northern Territory’s new Aboriginal Affairs Policy. We have long called for the development of national justice targets and it is important to see the Territory taking initiative in this area”.

“We also welcome a recent commitment by the Western Australian Government to work towards supporting prevention and diversion initiatives to keep people out of the criminal justice system in the first place. It was also encouraging to hear that Western Australian Government has expanded a support service for Aboriginal people in custody; however what is really needed is a commitment to fund and legislate for a ‘Custody Notification Service’, an independent and mandatory service administered by an Aboriginal community-controlled legal service.”

“Actions speak louder than words, and we remain deeply concerned by the ongoing impact of laws, such as mandatory sentencing and the Northern Territory’s Paperless Arrests scheme, which disproportionately impact upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“It was also extremely distressing to hear reports from a Senate Inquiry last week that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, who are victims/survivors of domestic violence, have intentionally breached bail in order to go back to prison due to a lack of safe support services available in their communities”.

“Governments must translate their plans into tangible and meaningful action.  This can only be achieved in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and community-controlled organisations,” said Mr Duffy.

View Media Release in Full

Law Council of Australia

National mood for change on Indigenous incarceration must be seized by COAG – The Law Council of Australia

The Law Council of Australia has called on the Federal and State Governments to act on Australia’s disastrous rate of Indigenous imprisonment, following recent positive steps in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Earlier this week, the Northern Territory Government announced plans to set justice targets, to halve the rate of Aboriginal imprisonment by 2030, while Western Australia will establish a new 1800 hotline for Aboriginal prisoners in Western Australia, which will help to reduce instances of self-harm and suicide in custody. Law Council of Australia President Stuart Clark AM called on the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to seize the opportunity for intergovernmental action.

“Australia’s Indigenous incarceration rates represent a national crisis. Justice targets and an intergovernmental strategy on imprisonment and community violence must be on the agenda at the next COAG meeting,” Mr Clark said.

“Indigenous people represent just 2.5 per cent of the population, but 27 per cent of the prison population. Indigenous children represent 50 per cent of those in juvenile detention. This cannot be allowed to continue.

“Until governments commit to targets and genuine, evidence-based measures, Indigenous incarceration will continue to grow,” Mr Clark said.

View Media Release in Full


Join the team


ATSILS currently have a range of job opportunities available for suitably experienced Legal Practitioners across Civil, Family and Criminal Law jurisdictions throughout the state.

To view our current vacancy list click here

We employ nearly 200 staff in 25 offices located throughout Queensland. As one of Queensland’s largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employers, we provide a culturally rich workplace within a social justice framework. We also offer attractive employment conditions, including:

  • salary packaging
  • flexible working arrangements
  • structured professional development in conjunction with mentoring, coaching or performance feedback
  • above award conditions including additional leave
  • early access to long service leave
  • study leave for approved work-related courses.

Job Vacancies

Change the Record

MEDIA RELEASE: ‘Justice targets critical to ‘Closing the Gap’

Change the Record Coalition (CTR)

Change The Record Coalition“The ‘Close the Gap Campaign’s 2016 Progress and Priorities Report’ released today calls on government to develop justice targets to reduce the high rates of imprisonment and violence being experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

Change the Record Coalition Co-Chair Shane Duffy said, “These statistics are a sad indictment on our nation. The over-representation of our peoples in the criminal justice system, and high rates of violence being experienced, is both cause and effect for the poor state of health, education and employment outcomes of so many of our families and communities”.

“It is long past time for measurable justice targets to be adopted as part of the COAG Closing the Gap Strategy, and we welcome this renewed call for action from the Close the Gap Campaign. The safer communities ‘building block’ remains the only area without targets attached” said Mr Duffy.