ANTAR’s Campaigning for Justice toolkit outlines ways to take action; who to write, what to say, and sources to learn more about First Nations’ justice issues.
Find your voice
What to do
Writing a letter to your local MP, Ministers responsible for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, State Attorney-Generals and Premiers, is still one of the simplest and most direct ways to hold our politicians accountable. The more people that contact their local MPs, the more likely it is that they will take notice and a personal well crafted letter can have an impact. You may also visit Change the Record or Raise the Age.
Keep your letter short, ideally 1-2 pages – using simple points to make your case. First Nations people constitute only 3.2% of Australia’s population. In order for their voices to be heard they need our voices joined with theirs in solidarity. Ensure that you use correct titles and contact details for all MPs (you can usually find these on Parliamentary websites, and often politicians have their own websites).
What to say
You can draw on the history and current conditions outlined in our Justice pages and other sources to express your concerns and request action/s of your elected representative/s. Below are some further points to consider.
Australia’s record of according justice towards to its First Nations Peoples:
Australia is one of only a few western democracies yet to commit to structural change that would allow the Voices of its First Peoples to be heard on matters pertaining to their wellbeing.
Australia is one of the wealthiest nations on earth and yet it pursues First Nations policies that contribute towards extraordinary levels of incarceration in every jurisdiction; poor health outcomes; poor employment rates; poor educational outcomes; extraordinary rates of out-of-home care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children; and, disparity between First Nations and non-Indigenous people in numerous other indicators.
Australia’s First Nations peoples are proportionately the most incarcerated on earth.
Criminal Justice in Australia has been shown to have systemic racism with discriminatory practices that have a negative bias towards First Nations people.
Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in Custody in 1991, there have been many subsequent inquiries, reports and recommendations (largely initiated by governments) with the most recent being the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Pathways to Justice, 2018, that sets out the latest blueprint for change. Despite all these reports and recommendations there has been no real change in outcome for First Nations Peoples.
The Federal government has failed to allocate any substantial funding towards the 2020 National Closing the Gap Agreement.
Let us know how you go
Your efforts do make a difference and it is important to let our elected representatives know that these matters are important to us and inform our vote. Join us in telling our parliamentarians that we find the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the justice system unacceptable.
When you’ve sent your messages out, please come back here and report your advocacy action. This helps ANTAR monitor the grassroots advocacy taking place across Australia. Let us know if you receive a reply or see any progress in Justice initiatives in your area.
Thank you, and as always we appreciate your efforts and support!
Stan Grant participates in a ‘Reclaim’ performance during The Vigil on the eve of Australia Day at Barangaroo Reserve, Sydney, 2021.
‘Answers were there to greet us in Bourke’ Blog post by Paul Wright on the Maranguka Justice Reinvestment project.
Get Involved Just Reinvest NSW suggests a number of actions to take. In particular it directs you to use the template provided, to urge the Commonwealth Government / states and territories to take action to implement the 35 recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s 2018 Pathways to Justice Report.
National FVPLS ForumNational Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum provides holistic, specialist, culturally safe legal and non-legal supports to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing or at risk of family violence.