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Advancing Indigenous Justice: Highlights from the 2nd National Indigenous Justice Forum

3 min read
National Indigenous Justice Forum

In a stark reflection of systemic injustice, Indigenous Australians represent only two per cent of the population yet constitute 26% of the prison population, facing incarceration rates ten times higher than non-Indigenous Australians.   

Third Sector’s 2nd National Indigenous Justice Forum reveals that there is still a lot of work to be done to address empowering and safeguarding youth for genuine reconciliation and transformative action. 

With 30+ speakers, the forum garnered 150+ attendees who were provided with open conversations, case studies, workshops and strategies to take action in their communities and work towards a brighter future for Indigenous peoples across the country. 

HOPE Aboriginal Cultural Practice and Capability Manager Stephen Morrison emphasised the imperative for practical strategies to break negative cycles. He highlighted that empowering Indigenous youth could forge positive pathways, aiming to tackle the roots of over-representation in the prison system. 

The forum echoed with voices committed to genuine reconciliation and transformative action.  

“To be in a room of such educated, passionate people around the issues that impact our mob directly was profound,” said Darumbal Community Youth Services Inc. Team Leader Kiah Woodall. 

Woodall emphasised how forum Chair Megan Krakouer, Director at the National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project, empowered attendees throughout the forum leaving them moved in many ways.  

“In this setting, the fire in my belly was stirred, in this setting we spoke of truth-telling, in this setting – we all had a voice.” 

Forum speaker and Top End Women’s Legal Service Indigenous Community & Project Officer Pamela Lasker highlighted that the 2nd National Indigenous Justice Forum reaffirmed what we know about the unacceptable standards and the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australian prisons and Youth Detention Centres. 

“It’s time for change!” said Lasker. 

The 2nd National Indigenous Justice Forum wasn’t just about dialogue; it was a call to action for genuine reconciliation and transformative change. 

Courts Administration Authority Youth Justice Coordinator Sue Graham shared that education, empathy, compassion and continual learning is key for discourse around racism, people experiencing domestic violence (DV), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and homelessness. 

Highlighting in particular the forum session led by Voice of Hope’s founding director Lorraine Pryor, in which Graham underlined the resonance of hearing about lived experiences. 

Katherine Women’s Information and Legal Service CEO Siobhan Mackay shared that she was excited to see her colleagues speak up for women and gender equity. 

While representatives from Women’s Legal Services Australia raised crucial concerns about gender equity within Indigenous justice discourse, it showcased the need for intersectional approaches. 

“The highlight for me was meeting so many intelligent and strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations across the country that dedicate their work and everyday lives to resolving the justice issues for our people in Australia, all sessions were so powerful,” said Cloncurry Justice Association Inc Manager Jonathon Collins. 

People from all walks of life came together at the forum with the common goal of stopping the incarceration of Indigenous people, providing alternatives to incarceration and defending human rights. 

“It was an incredible opportunity to speak with people who are dedicated to preventing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from entering the justice system, implementing alternatives to incarceration and safeguarding human rights,” said PeakCare Queensland General Manager Kate Bjur. 

As the forum concluded, the call for action reverberated louder than ever. The 2nd National Indigenous Justice Forum not only illuminated the challenges but also ignited hope for a future where equity, justice and empowerment prevail. 

The third sector also hosts the 6th National Housing and Homelessness Forum, the 4th National Indigenous Empowerment Summit, the 7th National Child Protection Forum, and the 8th National Social and Emotional Wellbeing Forum, which play an important role in driving collective efforts to address homelessness, empower Indigenous communities, protect children’s rights, and promote emotional well-being on a national scale. 

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.


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