Indigenous Law Bulletin
by Basana Neliman
The Indigenous Justice Agreement was a resolution of the 1997 Ministerial Summit on Indigenous Deaths in Custody. The resolution aimed to address the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system through the development of strategic plans for the coordination of Commonwealth, state and territory governments, and Indigenous people and organisations to further develop and deliver programs. These agreements are to be signed by governments and state Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committees (‘AJACs’). In Queensland the AJAC is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Board (‘the ATSIAB’).
The ATSIAB was appointed by a decision of the Queensland Cabinet in June 1999. We are responsible for advising the Queensland Government on the development and implementation of policy relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland. Through the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy, the Board is required to advise on matters such as:
As the Government’s peak advisory body on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy, the Board is also responsible for coordinating advice provided by its constituent bodies, as required by the Minister.
On 4 August 2000, the Minister signed a communiqué with me to give ATSIAB carriage of the final stages of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice Agreement (‘QATSIJA’) and a mandate to host community consultations during late 2000. The Board subsequently hosted forums in Townsville, Charleville, Cunnamulla, Rockhampton, Brisbane, Thursday Island and Cairns.
On 16-17 October 2000, the Board held a workshop in Brisbane with the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Legal Service Secretariat and with representatives of the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services from across Queensland. The QATSIJA Consolidated Draft (12 October 2000) was discussed at this workshop and is the document that was used at the community forums held in Queensland.
The Board is the recognised AJAC in Queensland and believes the QATSIJA will address concerns raised over a decade ago by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. It will also address concerns raised since the National Ministerial Summit in 1997 and by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Task Force on Violence Report.
The aim of the Justice Agreement is to have a demonstrated continuing reduction by 50 % of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples coming into contact with the Queensland criminal justice system and to achieve at least parity with the non-Indigenous rate by the year 2011.
Basana Neliman is an Administration Officer at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Board in Queensland.
 This piece is based on policy documents produced by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Board and the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy. These documents include the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Indigenous Justice Agreement which was signed on 19 December 2000 and the ATSIAB Terms of Reference.