28 February 2020
ALS Welcomes Renewed Calls for Walama Court and Greater Support for Communities
The Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited (‘ALS’) welcomes the wide-ranging recommendations of the Special Commission of Inquiry's Report into the Drug ‘Ice’, saying only a ‘paradigm shift’ away from a criminal justice lens to a health-based response will help address the devastation caused by drugs.
Importantly, the Inquiry found that NSW Government action must be grounded in an ‘understanding of Aboriginal definitions of health and wellbeing; the importance of family, community, culture and Country to Aboriginal health and wellbeing; the impacts of colonisation and racism on the health of Aboriginal people; the effects of trauma experienced personally, intergenerationally and culturally; the disproportionate effects of socioeconomic disadvantage; and the principles of self-determination.
Chief Executive Officer Karly Warner said the ALS had long-campaigned for many of the Inquiry’s 109 recommendations, such as the expansion of the highly-successful Youth Koori Court into regional areas of NSW and the implementation of the Walama Court proposal.
“We welcome the Inquiry’s acknowledgement of the important role of culturally-specific courts in providing holistic and wraparound support for our communities. We know that courts that involve Elders, Aboriginal community controlled organisations and culturally-appropriate members, provide the most effective support for our mob. We call on the NSW Government to act without delay to establish a Walama Court in NSW – an Aboriginal-specific court that can deal with drug and alcohol matters.”
“The ALS is pleased that the Inquiry has acknowledged the need for a health-focused response to address the use of ‘Ice’.
“Community-designed and community-led diversionary programs, together with advice from drug and alcohol experts, will address the underlying issues that result in substance abuse and provide much-needed support and counselling to ensure Aboriginal people and their families get the help they need.
“The greater use of culturally-specific courts like the Youth Koori Court and Walama Court, as well as a Family Drug Treatment Court, would also allow people to receive treatment in the community, reducing the risk of them getting stuck in the quicksand of the justice system and recognising the crucial role that connection with Aboriginal culture plays in healing.”
Ms Warner said the ALS supports calls for greater funding for drug and alcohol services and rehabilitation programs for Aboriginal people.
“The NSW Government must act without delay to implement the Inquiry’s important recommendations to ensure there is greater prevention, diversion and rehabilitation initiatives to support our communities, particularly in regional areas.”
ALS Media Contact: 0427 346 017 / [email protected]