“…too many Aboriginal Victorians are still dying in custody. Too many Aboriginal Victorians are in custody in the first place... We can do better. We will do better.”

Victorian Government, 15 April 2021


27 May 2021

This Reconciliation Week provides a sober opportunity to reflect on the over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people around Australia, including here in Victoria.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are imprisoned in Victoria at a significantly higher rate than the total population. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rate almost doubled between 2010 and 2020, and Aboriginal women make up the fastest-growing group in Victoria’s prisons.

One significant factor contributing to the increased imprisonment rate is Victoria’s bail laws, which have had an especially harsh effect on women—and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women most of all.

People on remand are unsentenced, with many still awaiting trial—legally, they are presumed to be innocent. Nearly half of the women in Victoria’s prisons are on remand—and in April April, for the first time, more women in prison were on remand than not.

The danger of imprisonment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is well known – this year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

We believe that Victoria’s bail laws should be reformed as a matter of priority, with a focus on reforming the punitive measures that have disproportionately affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, especially women.

We will not imprison our way to a safe, fair and just society.  


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