Jaclyn Symes says Indigenous Victorian experience racism, oppression, exclusion in justice system, government

This week, the commission launched an investigation into injustices experienced by Aboriginal people in the state’s criminal justice and child protection systems and heard from government witnesses that it is disproportionately affected Bail Law Amendment Bill Has been impacting indigenous peoples since 2018.

In the year to June 2022, 1,190 unsentenced people were detained, according to government figures submitted to the inquiry. During the same period, 735 Aboriginal men and women who had been detained without a custodial sentence were released from prison.

The latest prison population figures show that as of Monday, 783 Indigenous men, or 13 per cent of the prison population, were in custody, 49 per cent of whom had not been sentenced.

There are 38 Aboriginal women in custody, representing 12 per cent of the women’s prison population, of whom 44 per cent are on remand. As of Wednesday, 11 Aboriginal youths were in custody, with nine remanded in custody.

In her witness statement, Symes said one of the challenges of reforming the criminal justice system is identifying any single policy, law or action as the root cause of systemic injustice and structural racism.

Symes will appear before the committee on Friday to speak about the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in prisons.

Symes will appear before the committee on Friday to speak about the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in prisons.Credit: chris hopkins

“These issues are complex and multifaceted. Through this Yoorrook truth-telling process, the Government will further reflect and critically assess the criminal justice system, laws and policies and their impact on Aboriginal people, and work with the Commission and Aboriginal communities to continue Identify and implement meaningful change solutions,” Symes said in the statement.


“In examining the profiles of those who come into contact with the justice system, it is also noteworthy that there are high rates of acquired brain injury, mental illness and socioeconomic disadvantage. This broadly reflects disparities within the community. equality and demonstrates the breadth of systemic injustices in the criminal justice system.”

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