The Coalition Government has written to all state and territory governments offering to fund a national roll out of the Custody Notification Service (CNS) – similar to the scheme that currently operates in New South Wales.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has written to state and territory attorneys-general to offer funding for three years to support the introduction of the CNS. The funding offer is contingent on the jurisdictions mandating the use of the CNS and agreeing to fund it after the three-year introductory period.
“The CNS has been critical to saving the lives of countless First Australians in NSW since it was introduced in 2000,” Minister Scullion said.
“Under NSW legislation, a custody notification manager is required to immediately notify a representative of the Aboriginal Legal Service as soon as an Indigenous person is detained.
“It is a 24-hour service that not only provides legal representation, but also mental health and other support that often stabilises volatile situations.”
Minister Scullion’s funding offer has been provided in the context of state and territory governments having responsibility for the running of the justice system, including the placing of people in custody.
“The three years of funding will enable the states and territories to assess whether rates of Indigenous deaths in custody have fallen as a result of the introduction of the CNS,” Minister Scullion said.
On 1 December 2015, Minister Scullion announced the Australian Government would provide the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT with $1.8 million to support the NSW CNS until 30 June 2019.