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Assessment Task 2 of 4

Health: Question 1
Discuss the impact of colonialism on Aboriginal peoples health. Use
relevant examples and statistical data to support your response.
Colonialism had a detrimental impact on the health of Aboriginal peoples as the
imposition of the European way of life largely interrupted the Aboriginal huntergatherer lifestyle. Prior to colonialism and European contact, Aboriginal
populations were very healthy, they were active, they were physical according
to the Deputy Chairperson of the Mornington Island Health Council, Sarah Isaacs.
Aboriginal peoples, such as the Lardil, led healthy lifestyles eating a balanced
and nutritious diet which varied geographically.
The establishment of fixed settlements and the loss of traditional lands during
colonialism marginalised Aboriginal peoples, consequently resulting in poor
nutrition as natural resources were lost to pollution or destruction from European
agriculture. Direct conflict and occupation of Aboriginal land by settlers and
colonisers heightened Aboriginal mortality as the Aboriginal peoples ability to
live healthy lives was compromised. The cycle of dispossession and
demoralisation onset by colonialism continued to result in poor health outcomes
for Aboriginal people.
In addition, a number of the native flora and fauna species utilised as food
sources by Aboriginal people began to dwindle during colonialism. Consequently,
the natural food habits and living patterns of the Aboriginal peoples changed.
This was the case for the Lardil people living on Mornington Island where many of
the local Aboriginal people began to abuse alcohol, as their core practice of
hunting dugongs and dolphins was hindered. Much of the knowledge Aboriginal
people had accumulated about bush foods and medicine was lost, resulting in
the lower life expectancy of Aboriginal people today; according to the Australian
Bureau of Statistics, Aboriginal men on average live 11.5 years less than other
Australian men. Colonialism was consequential in relation to diet, as less
nutritious foods became part of the Aboriginal peoples diet. Many of these foods
contained sugars and fats which led to other health problems; addictive
substances like sugar and tobacco were detrimental for Aboriginal people, and
the consequences still exist today as the Australian Bureau of statistics reports
that 50% of the Indigenous population are daily smokers, contributing to a higher
prevalence of lung and throat cancers amongst Aboriginal peoples.
Colonialism brought about the introduction of diseases and epidemics, such as
small pox, tuberculosis, influenza and measles, which Aboriginal people had no
immunity against. Consequently, the populations of the Lardil on Mornington
Island declined due to the poor health associated with colonialism.
Lifestyle-related diseases Aboriginal people had not experienced before also
became more prevalent, including diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular
disease as well as low birth weights for Aboriginal infants. These negative health

trends exponentially worsened after colonialism, as the National Health and


Medical Research Council and the Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded the
Indigenous infant mortality rate is 2.8 times higher than the overall Australian
rate. Further to this, the Australian Bureau of statistics also documented diabetes
is between two and four times more common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples than among other Australians as about six out of every 100
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (or 6%) reported diabetes or high
sugar levels (HSL) as a long-term health condition, which can be attributed to
the profound damage colonialism caused to Aboriginal health.
The breakdown of traditional systems during colonisation and post colonialism,
as influenced by colonial authorities and missionaries, subsequently reduced the
Lardil on Mornington Island to be dependent on unreliable fly-in doctor services:
Each new doctor weve got to explainwhy were here and what our condition
is, explained by Lardil community member Lou Lou. This is indicative of the
somewhat untrustworthy relationship established by colonialism between
Aboriginal peoples and medical services. A study conducted by The Australian
McInman Research Centre found that 16.1% of the 55 Aboriginal participants had
difficulty understanding medical services receptionists, and a further 23.3% had
difficulty communicating with doctors; therefore their health is directly
compromised.
Moreover, the dislocation of Aboriginal peoples resulted in poor housing
conditions, leading to poor hygiene and instances of overcrowding in substandard housing. This is evidenced by the establishment of reserves in the least
desirable regions of towns, such as on flood plains, which were not suitable for
any type of housing development. For example, colonialism disallowed the
traditional Lardil movements between camps, thus they significantly suffered
illnesses associated with poor hygiene and waste build up, such as hepatitis and
gastroenteritis.
Thus the health status of Aboriginal people worsened as social factors like
poverty, limited access to health services, technology, education, employment
and low income, as a consequence of colonisation, culminated to create barriers
which today are still exacerbating Aboriginal health, demonstrated by the
substantially lower life expectancy of Aboriginal people and the increased
likelihood of Aboriginal peoples to die from cardiovascular disease at a much
younger age than normal.
Furthermore, colonialism brought about an increasing amount of mental health
issues for Aboriginal people with the aftermath of the Stolen Generations and the
forced separation of Aboriginal children from their families. The Lardils health
went into disarray as Aboriginal children were placed in dormitories and cultural
maintenance could no longer occur. This one of the deeply rooted causes of the
poor health of the Lardil today, as well as a contributor to the high rate of suicide
on Mornington Island; in 2000 five young Lardil men killed themselves in the
space of two months (ABC local radio archive).

It is clear that colonialism has overwhelmingly impacted Aboriginal peoples


health in a negative way, optimised by the example of the Lardil community on
Mornington Island.

Health: Question 2
What social and political changes are necessary to improve Aboriginal
and other Indigenous peoples health standards? In your response refer
to both an Australian Indigenous community and an International
community.
There are many social and political changes which are necessary for the
improvement of the health standards of Aboriginal people and other Indigenous
peoples such as the Maori of Auckland, New Zealand.
A critical social change for the improvement of Aboriginal health is the regaining
of land and the strengthening of support networks for Aboriginal people to
continue cultural maintenance practices.
The Mornington Shire Council has been attempting to establish a Site
Management Plan in communion with local Aboriginal rangers to protect sacred
places which are threatened by environmental issues such as erosion, as well as
the proposed transport of minerals from the Gulf; these events have prevented
the Lardil from accessing story places which are of significant importance to
their spirituality and cultural maintenance, and therefore, their overall health and
wellbeing.
As there hasnt been a single effort by the Queensland Department of
Environment and Heritage to protect these sites in order to promote cultural
maintenance, the regaining of Aboriginal land and improved Aboriginal health
standards on a holistic level, an effective social and political change would be for
the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage to collaborate with the
Mornington Shire Council in creating and applying the Site Management Plan the
community has been requesting. This political change is paramount to achieving
higher standards of health for Aboriginal people, especially the Lardil, as Lardil
residents have articulated the significance of the emotional and mental health
benefits of cultural maintenance: Our bodies must keep doing the dances and
living in the bush, and making the artefacts that keep our skills alive. These
things are what we need to keep the head and the body together, as said by
Lardil community member Larry Lanley.

Implementing Site Management Plans in conjunction with Aboriginal community


consultation would further enable the Lardil to utilise traditional bush medicines
and employ traditional healing practices, as sacred sites such which are
associated with cultural knowledge could be used to improve the health
standards of Aboriginal people, exemplified by the Lardils use of salt water pans
and white clay to heal snake bites.
Successful land claims in Aboriginal communities have made an impact on the
cultural and spiritual life of these communities, and have subsequently
influenced Aboriginal health, as regaining land provides Aboriginal people with
the opportunity to access nutritional food and bush medicines. In the community
of Kungkayunti, Northern Territory, the Aboriginal people maintained lower rates
of diabetes, cardiovascular risk factors, hospitalisation and death since they
could partake in cultural maintenance, in comparison to similar Aboriginal
communities which were forced to source food from government stores (Morice
RD. Woman dancing dreaming). Therefore, one of the most significant political
changes required for the improvement of Aboriginal health standards is the
returning of lands which come under native title; the current back log and slow
processing of native title claims should be addressed at a federal level, as
allowing Aboriginal peoples to return to their subsistence economic base results
in increased health standards. Thus, this political change would allow the
enjoyment of better health standards by Aboriginal people including the Lardil of
Mornington Island, as parts of the Wellesley islands are threatened.
Furthermore, another change which is essential for the improvement of
Aboriginal health standards is the remodelling of health care services. The
accessibility of quality health care and culturally appropriate treatments,
especially in rural Aboriginal communities, is essential for the effectiveness of
medical actions. Government run services and policies however cannot always
provide solutions that effectively mitigate the consequences of Aboriginal
disadvantage, which subsequently enables the worsening of Aboriginal health
standards.
Therefore, a social change required for enhancing Aboriginal health is the
establishment of more community imposed and managed health programs. For
instance, the Townsville Mums and Babies program and the Mornington Island
Young Mothers Program have recorded declines in low birth weight and pre
term births as well as an increased attendance of antenatal care. These
programs have worked successfully within Aboriginal communities due to the
employment of Aboriginal health professionals, such as the Mornington
Aboriginal Health Team, and the utilisation of early prevention strategies which
involved the communities in planning and delivery; the core paradigms of these
programs should be applied to all national, state and local programs addressing
Aboriginal health issues.
Moreover, another social change vital for the improvement of Aboriginal health
standards is the broadening of recruitments and training of Aboriginal Health
practitioners. This would irrefutably advance the capacity of the health system in

rural and urban areas to work effectively across cultures, which the current
mainstream system struggles to do. This would resolve issues such as the
unreliability of fly in doctor services experienced on Mornington Island, as the
availability of more Aboriginal Health Workers would allow for greater
permanency of health professionals.
Currently, the Close the Gap policy has established Tackling Indigenous Smoking
Teams in 57 regions nationwide. This includes the implementation of 344 full
time health workers who work in Aboriginal communities at a grass roots level to
develop local programs that empower and support community members to quit
(smoking). Programs such as this should serve as a model for the creation of
other programs which could provide primary and secondary health care
addressing all of the major determinants of Aboriginal mortality in Australia. The
skills of Aboriginal Health workers shouldnt be restricted to combatting smoking
alone, but should be deployed across health issues such as coronary heart
disease and diabetes. Diabetes and coronary heart disease are extremely
prevalent in remote Aboriginal communities that are socioeconomically
disadvantaged including Mornington Island where 7.8% of Lardil adults selfreported having diabetes (CNWQML and Healthy Futures Australia). If the
medical services active on Mornington Island incorporated the visitation of a
Tackling Indigenous Diabetes Team a solid foundation would be created for the
improvement of health standards amongst the Lardil.
In continuation, a political change which is a prerequisite to improving Aboriginal
health standards is the implementation of culturally safe assessments and
appropriate interventions, such as community development interventions.
Interventions which promote the empowerment of Aboriginal communities must
be included as part of an overarching strategy to reduce health inequities
amongst the Aboriginal populace; Aboriginal people need to be given the power
to make decisions which relate to their own health by the government. Currently,
the infant mortality rate for Aboriginal children is 8 infants per 1000 births. Social
changes which could effectively address this poor health standard include
implementing sensitive screenings of communities to identify their needs and
introduce treatments before minor health problems escalate; this would include a
community-based and client-centred approach, as opposed to the current health
centre-focused model. Subsequently, issues such as the absence of full-time
qualified child health workers in Aboriginal communities or Aboriginal Community
Controlled Health Centres would be resolved, resulting in better health standards
for Aboriginal people from an earlier age. For this to be achieved, constructive
dialogue between government agencies, public health professionals and most
importantly, Indigenous communities, needs to occur, which it currently doesnt
on the scale that it should. Aboriginal people in Australia will not be able to
liberate themselves from the circumstances of disadvantage they find
themselves in, and the poor health standards they are restricted to, until a
political structure is built to protect and enrich their self-determination.
Likewise, Aboriginal health issues should no longer be addressed at a superficial
level, as deep running contextual issues such as poverty, poor housing, low

income, low employment and poor education heighten the incidence of


preventable diseases such as trachoma; the Australian Bureau of Statistics
reported that currently 50% of Aboriginal communities in very remote areas had
endemic rates of trachoma, therefore supporting the need for a more holistic
and all-encompassing approach to Aboriginal health to be established. This
should include the involvement of Aboriginal elders in grass roots health
campaigns. For example, the doctors who were part of the Fred Hollows
trachoma program knew how to solve medical problems but didnt possess the
skills to solve the social issues. Aboriginal people provided the valuable
connection and authority within the Aboriginal communities the trachoma
program visited. Aboriginal people took the initiative to physically precede the
medical team in order to secure community cooperation; doctors worked
together with Aboriginal people and continually sought their advice.
In order for Aboriginal health standards to improve, a dichotomous system which
incorporates standard health professionals as well as Aboriginal community
representatives and Aboriginal knowledge needs to be founded in places such as
Mornington Island, where a mistrust of the mainstream health care system
exists. This would build a rapport between Aboriginal peoples and doctors,
effectually improving health outcomes.
The regaining of land and the continuation of cultural maintenance are similarly
important for the improvement of health standards for the Maori of Auckland,
New Zealand. The health of Maori people is greatly determined by their
interaction with the environment, as the Auckland Maori view the natural
environment as the foundation of their existence. Regaining land and being able
to live on traditional land is profoundly beneficial for the mental and emotional
health of the Auckland Maori. For example, a core concept of the cultural Maori
worldview is finding a place to stand, which is expressed through forming
relationships to places; feeling connected to home provides empowerment. Thus,
not allowing the Maori people to regain or maintain land is to the detriment of
the Maoris overall wellbeing, and so a social change which needs to occur is the
increased access to traditional lands for Maori communities.
Further to this, Maori languages also express the values and beliefs of the people
and is a focal point of their cultural identities. These concepts are difficult for
mainstream health services to understand and accommodate for, and thus,
social changes are required.
Living on traditional land, known as paptuanuku to the Auckland Maori, is
extremely significant for their standards of health, as the Maori value four holistic
aspects of health, collectively called te whare tapa wha, which are: spiritual
health,
psychological
health,
physical
health
and
social
health.
Acknowledgement within mainstream health services of these facets of Maori
spirituality is required in order for the health standards of the Maori to improve.
This social change could be sustained by increasing the amount of Maori medical
staff being recruited and trained with both conventional medical degrees and
training in traditional Maori practices. Maori people currently represent only 3.1%

of New Zealands doctors, highlighting the need for university pathways for
Auckland Maori students to be re-evaluated, in order for Maori health standards
to be advanced internally.
Traditional rongoa healers should also be given a role within mainstream health
services, including hospitals, as for many Maori the major deficiency in the
modern health system is the spiritual dimeson; this could be achieved through
increased dialogue between the Ministry of Health and the National body of
Traditional Maori Healers. Service quality within mainstream hospitals could be
improved for Maori patients as traditional healing is largely individualised, and if
traditional healing is governmentally supported outside of the mainstream health
system, then geographical and financial barriers preventing the Auckland Maori
from accessing primary health care would also be addressed, improving the high
prevalence of cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, and diabetes,
which is the largest cause of mortality for older Maori.
In continuation, an additional social change required is the greater investment in
and development of health programs that place whanau (extended family) and
wellbeing at the centre of health work. This, in conjunction with the adoption of
the Te Reo Maori language in community health facilities, would provide a
culturally appropriate health service to the Maori people. For instance,
maintaining traditional language and using it to converse in community settings
such as the maraes, allows Maori patients to openly discuss their personal lives,
and in turn receive greater medical support. This social change of adopting Maori
language and focusing on family as an integral part of Maori health would assist
in addressing the high rate of hospitalisation for Maori infants due to respiratory
infections, onset by poor housing conditions; 20% of Maori live in overcrowded
housing conditions, and one in five Maori hospital admissions are for the
treatment of infectious diseases from household overcrowding like pneumonia,
meningococcal and tuberculosis (University of Otago Wellington).
By distributing health information materials written in Maori language outside of
medical institutions, but within maraes and Maori community hubs, negative
health trends related to low socioeconomic status could be curved in a culturally
relevant way.
An example of whanau focused health programs implemented in Auckland are
the Turanganui-a-kiwa Community Injury Prevention Project which saw the use of
seatbelts by Maori children increase from 10% to 74%, the SIDS Prevention
Program, the Tipu Ora Child Care Program and the Te Awaroa Lifestyles Program.
Enhancing the administration of these programs is a critical social change
necessary for the advancement of Auckland Maori health standards, as the
current mainstream health system neglects the significance of cultural protocols
such as meeting with patients alongside family members.
Significantly, the low socioeconomic status of the Maori also needs to be
addressed more seriously, as it is a key determinant of Maori health standards;
16.2% of Maori adults are unemployed (Ministry of Business, Employment and
Innovation) disallowing for expenditure on health related products and services.

Developments in Maori employment opportunities needs to be a governmental


priority as part of a political change, as improving the employment rate of the
Maori population would inadvertently benefit Maori health standards.
To conclude a number of significant political and social changes are necessary for
the improvement of Aboriginal people and other Indigenous peoples health
standards.

Criminal Justice: Question 1


Discuss the impact of colonialism since the 1960s on Aboriginal people
over representation in the criminal justice system. Use relevant
examples and statistical data to support your response.

Colonialism had a momentous impact on Aboriginal peoples over representation


in the criminal justice system, including the Wiradjuri in Central West New South
Wales. Historically, attitudes between Aboriginal people and authorities have
been tense, which has subsequently led to Aboriginal people being
overrepresented in the criminal justice system today; Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander adults are 15 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous
Australians (2014 Social Justice and Native Title report).
This overrepresentation in police custody, court appearances and within prisons
is a direct consequence of the imposition of an alien system of law enforcement
during colonialism, which conflicted with traditional systems of punishment. The
imposition of foreign law resulted in the over representation of Aboriginal people
in contact with the criminal justice system due to the many cultural differences
between Aboriginal people, such as The Wiradjuri, and non-Aboriginal people in
regards to dispute resolution. For example, the Wiradjuri people favoured
communal emotional processes to deal with crimes, in accordance with
customary law, whilst the European system favoured hierarchal and controlled
processes.
The introduction of a Protector on Erambie mission during colonialism, at the
request of the white residents living in Cowra, exemplified the colonisers biased
discourse, as they were convinced of their own superiority and right to enforce
the law. This largely prohibited cultural compromises between Aboriginal peoples
and the Europeans, resulting in the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in
the criminal justice system and a mistrust of police on behalf of Aboriginal
peoples. This hostile relationship established during colonialism is still present
today, as many Aboriginal offenders report police discrimination; Aboriginal
people are 15 times more likely to be charged for swearing or offensive
behaviour than the rest of the community and 17.3 times more likely to be
arrested than non-Indigenous people in general (Australian Human Rights
Commission). As a consequence of this hostile relationship founded in
colonialism, Aboriginal communities have been over policed contributing to their
over representation in court appearances.
Consequently, Aboriginal people such as the Wiradjuri have been marginalised
from the rest of society, and their freedoms were strictly controlled by white
authorities during colonialism and government policies thereafter. The
institutionalised racism which accompanied colonialism generated a cycle of
generational problems, optimised in the breakdown of Aboriginal communities
during the Stolen Generations; emotional damage from being forcibly removed in
turn lead Aboriginal peoples to perpetrate violence, self-harm, abuse substances
and engage in anti-social behaviour, contributing to greater contact with the
criminal justice system. As a result of these implications from colonialism,
Aboriginal people made up a quarter of the prison population in 2009 (Australian
Bureau of Statistics) despite only accounting for less than 3% of the population.
These generational problems including high unemployment, low educational
achievement and low levels of income, culminated in the over representation of

Aboriginal people in contact with the criminal justice system, as Aboriginal family
life was destroyed and Aboriginal people lost their identities, leading to criminal
behaviours; many Wiradjuri children were institutionalised during colonialism and
up until the 1970s, placed in institutions such as Cootamundra Girls Training
Home, resulting in over representation within the criminal justice system due to
the behaviours triggered by emotional trauma and loss of heritage. In 1995,
approximately one in ten Aboriginal people over the age of twenty four had been
removed from their families as children, and this age group experienced
extremely high arrest rates, as 80% of Aboriginal prisoners in NSW were directly
affected by the removal policies existing from colonialism (The Australian).
Similarly, half of the Aboriginal deaths in custody investigated by the 1987 Royal
Commission involved Aboriginal people who had been removed from their family
as a child, or arrested for a criminal offence before the age of fifteen, indicating
the impacts of colonialism and the fundamental breakdown of Aboriginal social
structure in the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in contact with the
criminal justice system as offenders and victims.
These cyclical problems incited by colonialism and worsened by the implications
of social disadvantage have contributed to an alarming over representation of
Aboriginal juveniles in detention since the 1960s as Indigenous youth are
incarcerated at a rate 28 times higher than non-Indigenous juveniles (L. Brown
Indigenous youth in the criminal justice system). Due to the ramifications of
colonialism in regard to Aboriginal peoples poor education outcomes and lack of
understanding of the western court system, Aboriginal people have been
entrapped and not accommodated by the courts, as bail requirements are mostly
unattainable for Aboriginal offenders in rural locations contributing to the
overrepresentation of Wiradjuri peoples in the criminal justice system.
Thus, colonialism since the 1960s and even prior has had clear and distinctive
impacts on the over representation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice
system, exemplified by the Wiradjuri people in Central West New South Wales.

Criminal Justice: Question 2


What social and political changes are necessary to address the over
representation of Aboriginal people and other Indigenous people in the
criminal justice system?
There are numerous social and political changes that are necessary to address
the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people and other Indigenous peoples, such
as the Oglala Lakota, in the criminal justice system. It is equally important for
social and political changes to look at the steps which led to Indigenous people
becoming entrapped in the criminal justice system as well as strategies to
reduce Indigenous contact with the criminal justice system.
A needed social change to reduce the overrepresentation of the Wiradjuri people
and other Aboriginal peoples in the criminal justice system is the education of
police in relation to cultural awareness, as the police are the starting point for
involvement in the criminal justice system. Through the increased employment
of Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers, police could gain a full understanding
of language barriers, the frequency of gratuitous concurrence (where Aboriginal
defendants say yes in reply to questions during interrogation regardless if this
answer is correct), cultural protocols such as Aboriginal defendants avoiding eye
contact, which is often mistaken as defiance or guilt, as well as the significance
of principles such as the Anungu Rules. Cultural awareness programs and
involvement with Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers should be mandated as
prerequisites for police entering the force, in order to curve police discretion
against Aboriginal people in over policing, provoking Aboriginal people and
handing down charges for minor offences. This social change would adjust the
attitudes of police who typically take a harsh stance on crime, as motivated by
politicians who adopt this view during elections; the development of
understanding the circumstances that surround crimes committed by Aboriginal
people would decrease Aboriginal over representation.
Furthermore, Aboriginal people such as the Wiradjuri must be empowered
through self-determination and reconciliation. Programs run by the Aboriginal
Justice Advisory Council and the Cowra PCYC facilitate the strengthening of
relationships between the Wiradjuri and the police in the local community. This is
the beginning of a broader social change which is necessary to reduce the over
representation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system. The
misrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the public, especially by the media,
needs to shift away from being negative, in order for a genuine commitment to
reconciliation to be made by the Australian public. The targeted recruitment and
training of Wiradjuri police officers would incite self-determination and Aboriginal
autonomy in addressing criminal justice issues, allowing Wiradjuri involvement in
policing decisions such as the management of the Cowra Night Patrol.

Moreover, as recommended by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in


custody, a change that is necessary to address higher rates of Aboriginal arrests
is using arrest as a last resort considering the highest over representation of
Aboriginal people in police custody is in the area of public order offences where
police discretion is the greatest determinant of who will be detained or arrested
and what they will be charged with (Cunneen). This is reflective of the fact that
the authority of individual police officers plays a major role in the sentencing of
Aboriginal people, which in many cases is socially unjust and therefore arrest as
a last resort is a rule which should be actively deployed.
Similarly, another political change required to reduce the interaction of
Aboriginal people with all three levels of the criminal justice system is the
creation of cohesiveness between state laws and council laws. Whilst public
drunkenness has been decriminalised in most states, a number of Aboriginal
people are taken in to custody for drinking in public due to inconsistencies in
council jurisdiction by laws, creating a disproportionate representation of
Aboriginal people in the court system.
Alternatives to police custody is an additional social change, which goes hand in
hand with decriminalising public drunkenness, as instead of Aboriginal people
being brought into police custody if they are in a bad state, dry out rooms,
sobering up shelters or facilities which are separate from the criminal justice
system could be utilised. These facilities would need to be non-custodial
alternatives in order for them to effectively reduce Aboriginal overrepresentation.
This social change would be successful in reducing the overrepresentation of
Wiradjuri people in contact with the criminal justice system, as community
consultations are already taking place with police and the Cowra Aboriginal
community, and therefore the foundations of trust between the Wiradjuri and the
authorities would allow for such facilities to be effectively run by the community
without interference.
Additionally, educational programs need to be put into place for Aboriginal
people interacting with the courts in relation to bail conditions and rights, as
Aboriginal people are incarcerated at a higher rate due to the fact that Aboriginal
people are often not informed they can they can apply for bail. On the flip side,
judicial officials must make progressive changes to practices and procedures
relating to bail, as prison should be used a last resort in favour of community
service where applicable. This would reduce recidivism as community service
allows for the involvement of the Aboriginal community in supervising the
offender. Alternatives sentencing options for Aboriginal people such as the
Wiradjuri should also be strengthened and broadened in order to reduce barriers
between Aboriginal communities and the court system, to make culturally
appropriate sentencing options accessible to a larger number of Aboriginal
people and to promote greater participation of Aboriginal offenders and victims
in sentencing. Circle Sentencing, conferencing and Koori Courts which have been
trialled throughout New South Wales, should be widely established across Central
West New South Wales; this would allow the Wiradjuri community to hold the key
to changing attitudes and providing solutions, especially in regards to the

growing imprisonments of Aboriginal juveniles and women. This would alleviate


the power relations of the past and promote a dual system of policing, allowing
for the adherence of customary law as well. Where alternative sentencing like
circle sentencing is not applicable to the crime that has been committed, a social
change which could still ensure the establishment of a positive relationship
between the Wiradjuri community and the courts could be allowing local
Wiradjuri elders to hand down the court sentence or police cautions; it is much
more discouraging for a young Aboriginal offender to face a respected elder from
the community, whose opinion would resonate more, in comparison to a
stranger.
Furthermore,
a
political
change
which
would
address
Aboriginal
overrepresentation in the courts and police custody is the banning of offensive
language by Aboriginal people against police as grounds for arrest, which was a
recommendation made by the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Council. Protocols
during sentencing should also be subject to change as Aboriginality should be
made a relevant factor in court sentencing in accordance with the Fernando
Principles. This would allow for Wiradjuri defendants to be granted leniency in
relation to time in order to properly prepare a defence with an Aboriginal Legal
Services Representative. Factors such as transport, homelessness and
unemployment exacerbate the barriers preventing Aboriginal people from
meeting bail conditions, thus, the courts should recognise the Aboriginality of
offenders to understand their socioeconomic circumstances, resulting in fairer
sentencing and a decline in Aboriginal overrepresentation in prisons.
A political change could further be the governmental recognition of customary
law within the judicial system, as this would allow customary law punishments or
values to be structured into court orders or in some cases, would allow for the
complete explanation of an offence, thereby addressing the overrepresentation
of Aboriginal people in contact with the criminal justice system. This would too
prevent Wiradjuri offenders to be punished twice, once by the courts and once by
the community.
Moreover, social and political changes should not just be made to the criminal
justice system itself, but should be made within the wider community. For
instance, in the same way that regaining land and cultural maintenance
increases Aboriginal health, it also has positive effects in relation to diverting
Aboriginal people from engaging in criminal behaviours. For instance, the
regaining of land for the Wiradjuri to establish the Murrumbidgee market
gardens, where they had been periodically dislocated from has effectively
prevented many Wiradjuri people from coming into contact with the criminal
justice system as offenders, as the community in that region became united in a
successful community initiative which improved their socioeconomic status.
Likewise, an important social change to address the overrepresentation of Oglala
Lakota in contact with the criminal justice system is renewed investment for
culturally appropriate programs specific to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Currently, programs and strategies such as the Womens shelter, Emergency

Youth Shelters, The Kiyuksa O'Tipi Reintegration Centre, Victims Assistance in


Indian Country, Pine Ridge Social Services and the Oglala Lakota Court Appointed
Special Advocate Program either do not receive adequate funding from the
government or receive no funding at all. The Oglala Lakota Court Appointed
Special Advocate Program makes recommendations to the courts concerning the
welfare of the Oglala Lakota children, however due to a lack of resources are
unable to help hundreds more Oglala Lakota children who require their help.
Therefore, the protection of Oglala Lakota children on Pine Ridge Reservation
within the criminal justice system should be prioritised on a national level and
instigate a political change, as effectively protecting American Indian children as
victims has the potential to prevent them from becoming offenders in the future,
breaking the cyclical occurrence of Lakota imprisonment and overrepresentation.
In addition, social change is needed to address the current lifestyle of
dependency and inequality for Oglala Lakota in all areas of social, economic and
political status. The federal project managed by the US Department of Justice &
Department of Housing and Urban Development prevents violent crimes and
drug offences in public and federally assisted housing, however, it does not
address low education levels, low income rates and low employment rates which
are the root causes of violent crimes and over representation of the Lakota in the
criminal justice system. Therefore, local, state and federal US governments need
to engage with tribal governments, corporations and communities in order to
collectively address issues of disadvantage; this has not been happening recently
due to a political shift away from focusing on American Indian issues in favour of
concerns relating to African American and Latino populations.
Increased involvement of the Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge Reservation would
allow for the development of criminal justice policies and programs which
directly address their needs and accommodate to their socioeconomic
circumstances, subsequently preventing the 21% incarceration rates of American
Indians in South Dakota from increasing.
It is imperative that social and political changes addressing Lakota
overrepresentation in the criminal justice system do not just focus on social
justice issues such as health, education, income and employment, which are all
determinants of interactions with the criminal justice system, but also human
rights issues such as sexual assault; 34% of Native American women will be
raped during their lifetime (Tjaden, P. & Thonennes. 2000), increasing Lakota
interaction with the courts and police as victims.
Also, 96% of American Indian respondents whod been a victim of rape in a 2006
study also reported experiencing other physical abuse (Saylors, K., Daliparthy, N.
2006). Therefore, in order to reduce Oglala Lakota over representation in the
criminal justice system as victims, the lack of protection in place for Lakota
women on Pine Ridge Reservation needs to be addressed. The social
connotations attached to Native American sexual assaults, such as the
perception that only domestic violence takes place in these Oglala Lakota
communities, needs to be publicly challenged, not only by Indian spokespersons

such as from AIM, but by the government, as According to the Bureau of Justice
Statistics, at least 70% of the violent victimisations experienced by American
Indians are committed by persons of a different race.
It is irrefutably clear that there are a range of various political and social changes
that are necessary to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal peoples and
other Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system.