As Aboriginal and social justice campaigners gather in Sydney's CBD today, very positive news has been delivered that the Aboriginal Custody Notification Service will be funded until June 2019. The funding grant was due to expire at the end of this year but the Federal Government has committed to completely fund the service.
The Custody Notification Service was a recommendation from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and since its implementation there has not been a single Aboriginal death in a police cell or paddy wagon in NSW.
This is an important win for the Indigenous Social Justice Association, Aboriginal Legal Service and other social justice campaigners who have been demanding that this important service is retained.
Greens Member for Newtown Jenny Leong said:
“I am pleased to be joining with Aboriginal and social justice campaigners today to in support of the Aboriginal Custody Notification service, which we know saves lives and is an essential service that must continue.
“The fact that Federal funding to ensure this crucial service continues has been announced by Minister Scullion today is a credit to the strong campaign run by the community including over 50,000 petitioners, key peak legal bodies in NSW, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services around Australia, other Aboriginal and social justice organisations in NSW and around Australia.”
“The absence of action and failure of the NSW Government and Attorney General has not gone un-noticed and is a disappointing element to what is otherwise a great victory for those who continue to fight for Aboriginal justice”
Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“The fact that there hasn’t been a single Aboriginal death in a police cell or paddy wagon in NSW since the Custody Notification Service has been in existence goes to show that this is a crucial and lifesaving service that demands permanent funding.
“It is an extraordinary moral failure by the NSW Government not to contribute funding to the Custody Notification Service and to have engaged in brinkmanship with the Federal Government as the funding was due to dry up in a matter of weeks.
“We commend the action of the Federal Minister for ensuring the Custody Notification Service has continuous funding until June 2019.
“What is now required is a rock solid commitment from all state and federal governments to ensure the service is a permanent, nationwide fixture in the criminal justice system.
“The Indigenous Social Justice Association, Aboriginal Legal Service and other campaigners who have fought for the restoration of funding should celebrate this important win.” Mr Shoebridge said.