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The Australian Government will provide the NSW/ACT Aboriginal Legal Service with $1.8 million to support the NSW Custody Notification Service (CNS) until June 30, 2019.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, provided the funding assurance to deliver certainty for this critical service. He also called on the NSW Government to meet its responsibility to support the service.
“I have been trying to get the NSW Government to fulfil its responsibilities in relation to this matter,” Minister Scullion said.
“I am disappointed the NSW Attorney-General, Gabrielle Upton, has refused to even share the cost of the CNS. Given the NSW Government is responsible for the criminal justice system and welfare and safety of any person taken into custody in that state, it staggers me the NSW Attorney-General can ignore her government’s statutory obligation to provide this service.
“Even though the CNS has been funded by the Australian Government for seven years, it is not acceptable for the NSW Government to wipe its hands of its responsibility.
“All states and territories have arrangements in place to notify an Aboriginal legal service when an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person is taken into custody. But in the case of NSW, this is specifically mandated under its own statute books and as such, it beggars belief the NSW Government won’t fund the CNS.
“It is absolutely vital the CNS continues, given there has been no Aboriginal death in custody since its introduction in 2000. That is why I have committed to this funding while I continue to work with the NSW Government to ensure the Aboriginal Legal Service receives the long-term support it requires to deliver this vital service.
“If necessary, I will look at options to redirect existing funding allocated to the NSW Government towards the CNS.”
Minister Scullion said the $1.8 million was in addition to the more than $85 million being provided by the Commonwealth to the Aboriginal Legal Service to 30 June 2020 to deliver Indigenous Legal assistance in NSW and ACT.
“Through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, the Commonwealth is also investing around $250 million for safety and wellbeing activities in 2015-16, including activities designed to reduce Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s contact with the criminal justice system,” Minister Scullion said.
Download media release:
2015-12-01 Scullion MR – CNS.pdf