John D'Orazio

John D'Orazio

Former Minister for Police and Emergency Services; Justice; Community Safety

    Cutting re-offending key to reducing Aboriginal imprisonment

    16/12/2005 12:00 AM

    Strategies aimed at cutting the re-offending rate of Aboriginal prisoners could produce major benefits for the whole community.

    Justice Minister John D’Orazio said currently 1,300 Aboriginal offenders accounted for almost 40 per cent of Western Australia’s prison population.

    “Improving our success rate in rehabilitating Aboriginal offenders will help cut prisoner numbers,” Mr D’Orazio said.

    “We will not compromise our primary commitment to community safety - offenders who should be imprisoned will still be imprisoned.

    “Simple initiatives such as providing transport for newly released prisoners from Roebourne and Kalgoorlie-Boulder to their home communities will help divert some from immediately falling back into the justice system.

    “Involving Aboriginal people in the development of culturally appropriate programs - which aim to stop domestic violence and drug and alcohol abuse by changing the behaviour of offenders - has much greater potential benefits.

    “If these programs are successful, we will not only be cutting prisoner numbers, we will be helping Aboriginal families deal with major causes of injury and disruption and producing enormous savings for the police and hospital services.”

    Mr D’Orazio said other strategies included providing additional staff and resources to:
    • encourage and assist Aboriginal offenders to make arrangements for paying fines;
    • provide education on justice matters in remote communities;
    • help prisoners develop viable parole plans; and
    • deliver new, relevant employment training programs.
    The Minister said the new strategies would complement Government initiatives already under way, such as expanding the prison work camp program and using mobile work vans to enable offenders with community service obligations to serve their sentences in their own communities.

    Mr D’Orazio said the department would aim to cut the proportion of Aboriginal prisoners to less than 35 per cent - based on current figures, this represented more than a 20 per cent reduction in Aboriginal prisoner numbers - over the next four years.

    “These measures are only part of the solution. The Mahoney Inquiry and the soon to be released Kimberley custodial plan will provide additional long term strategies,” he said.

    “If successful in reducing imprisonment rates, these strategies will produce cost savings worth tens of millions of dollars, but their main benefits will be in reducing the impact of crime on the whole community and improving life for many Aboriginal families.”

    Minister's office: 9213 7150