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Abbott cuts to Indigenous legal services hypocritical

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 6 Sep 2013

The Australian Greens have condemned Tony Abbott's cuts to the Indigenous Legal Assistance and Policy Reform Program, saying it goes against all his past rhetoric and will exacerbate the shameful incarceration rates for Indigenous Australians.

"Tony Abbott says he wants to prioritise efforts to end Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage, but cutting Indigenous legal aid funding undermines this commitment," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.

"Australia has appallingly high incarceration rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and this over representation of Aboriginal people in prisons is a cause for national shame.

"It is critical that Aboriginal communities have access to legal services, cutting this essential funding is nonsensical and contrary to Mr Abbott's public commitments to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people," Senator Siewert concluded.

Australian Greens legal affairs spokesperson Senator Penny Wright said the Australian Greens would double funding to indigenous family violence prevention programs and increase funding to indigenous legal services by 50 per cent.

"Access to justice is the cornerstone of our democracy and without adequate legal aid, many indigenous Australians will continue go unrepresented in court," she said.

"We say every Australian should be able resolve their legal problems, and achieve fair results, based on the merit of their case, not the size of their income."

Under the Greens plan to improve legal services for Indigenous Australians, a total of $182.1 million would be invested over the next three financial years through organisations including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services.

Read more about the Greens' plan for a more affordable, accessible and fair justice system.

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