Walama List pilot to be introduced in NSW to reduce Indigenous incarceration

New South Wales Attorney General Mark Speakman has announced that the Walama List pilot will begin operations in February 2022 at the Sydney Downing Center District Court.

The idea is that “eligible Aboriginal offenders” will benefit from a “more culturally and community-appropriate approach” to sentencing.

“Walama is a Dharug word and it means to return and in this context, it means to return to identity, community, culture and a healthy and crime-free life,” the attorney general said.

“The Walama List Pilot Project aims to further involve the community in the judge’s sentencing process, build confidence in the justice system, and improve the referral of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders to services. essential supports that address the root causes of delinquent behavior. ”

Speakman noted that the program “will draw on the wisdom of Indigenous elders and respected members of the community in sentencing discussions” and provide “comprehensive support services” as well as “intensive supervision. before sentencing ”.

“We are working hand in hand with Indigenous communities to tackle disproportionate rates of Indigenous incarceration, reduce recidivism and find solutions that work,” he said.

Law Society of NSW president Juliana Warner said the Law Society supports the program.

“The Law Society believes that the Walama List Pilot Project is an important step towards establishing a Walama Court,” she said.

“And will play an important role in reducing recidivism by engaging Aboriginal offenders in community-based programs that address the root causes of delinquency.”

“This is crucial if we are to address the unacceptable and long-standing problem of Aboriginal over-incarceration. “

“It is a great tragedy that the indigenous peoples, who represent about three
percent of Australia’s population, accounts for 25 percent of all adults in custody.

It was reported that certain offenses, including prescribed sex offenses and serious violent offenses, will be excluded from the pilot project.

If the pilot is successful after a number of years, it is hoped that he will turn into a permanent Walama court.

Wiradjuri and Wailwan’s attorney, Teela Reid, has corrected misinformation that a Walama court has been created, and to be aware there is still some way to go.

“Last week we inducted lawyers and the community into the Walama List! This is put in place by a practice note, not by legislation as proposed in the original model we have been working on since 2015, ”she tweeted.

“Although this is a step in the right direction, we must [NSW Government] engage in systemic change.

The pilot project will be led by Judge Dina Yehia SC, who has worked with Indigenous Legal Services.

By Teisha Cloos

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