Reasons for jail numbers

Reasons for jail numbers

TRYRA member Ed Whitchurch asked Federal MP Christian Porter how Tony Abbott’s mantle as ‘Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs’ would affect the high imprisonment rates of indigenous people.

According to the ABS, 1977 of the 4924 ” about 40 per cent ” of prisoners in WA on June 30, 2013 were Aboriginal.

Mr Porter told the Times when he left the position of State Attorney-General in 2012, the percentage of the prison population which was indigenous was about 39 per cent, down from about 41.4 per cent in 2008.

‘This was in large part because, over the same period, it was really the first time there was a concerted effort to police violence and particularly domestic violence in indigenous communities,’ he said.

The Pearce MHR said the high rate of indigenous imprisonment in WA related to disproportionately high levels of offending in communities.

‘A huge part of the problem is that indigenous people experience violent victimisation at much higher rates than non-indigenous people, particularly community and family violence,’ Mr Porter said.

‘Aboriginal people overall are three to four times more likely to be victims of a sexual assault, and four to five times more likely to be a victim of an assault.

‘Aboriginal females are 40 to 45 times more likely to be a victim of a serious assault requiring hospitalisation than non-Aboriginal females.

‘Between 50 and 60 percent of Aboriginal spousal assaults involve the use of weapons such as sticks, rocks, iron bars, knives, spears, guns, bottles and ropes.’

Mr Porter said a big part of addressing the high rate of indigenous imprisonment was to tackle the problem of the domestic violence.

‘It’s a welfare problem, an intergenerational problem,’ he said at the meeting. ‘There’s no silver bullet for this problem.’

Mr Porter said there were some good signs, particularly in WA, and employment was key, as well as programs that helped young people get driver’s licences.