Queensland resisting plan to ‘save black lives’
THE Federal Government is warning that Queensland will have blood on its hands unless it adopts a plan where every indigenous person arrested will automatically receive a visit to check on their welfare.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has written to the State Government urging it to adopt the custody notification scheme (CNS) and save black lives.
Senator Scullion said that it made no sense why a state government would not do everything it could to help those over-represented in the jail system.
The system does not provide legal representation but triggers a visit to check on an inmate's welfare.
The State Government has told Senator Scullion that it had a similar plan and Queensland police did not believe they need to adopt the CNS.
But Senator Scullion said it was not good enough.
"I am absolutely confident that a Custody Notification Service in Queensland will save lives and would have saved the lives of indigenous people in the past, and nothing the Queensland Government claims will convince me otherwise,'' he said.
"It still galls me that states like Queensland put up so much resistance to such a straightforward reform that legislates to protect the welfare and lives of First Australians who we already know are more likely to interact with the justice system.
"It raises real questions about how fair dinkum they are in reducing indigenous incarceration rates if they won't even agree to introduce this lifesaving service.
"No one should be dying in police care - the harsh reality is that sometimes that isn't the case and we need to put an end to this."
Suicide prevention researcher Gerry Georgatos labelled the State Government's refusal as "morally and politically reprehensible".
A spokeswoman for Police Minister Mark Ryan said the QPS advised that the federal proposal would duplicate its "reliable and robust current measures".