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Issue #1649      July 30, 2014

Restore funding: Peris

Northern Territory Senator Nova Peris is demanding Prime Minister Tony Abbott restore funding to the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) office in East Arnhem before he visits the region in September.

NAAJA has announced that due to federal funding cuts of around $1 million they have no option but to close the office from next year.

Senator Peris has slammed the government for forcing the closure.

“The closure of this office will increase crime and increase Aboriginal incarceration rates which are already at shockingly high levels,” she said.

“NAAJA provides a critical legal service that has been proven to reduce reoffending.

“The closure of the NAAJA office is further proof that the Abbott government’s cuts are impacting on real frontline services, today.”

In Parliament recently, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion again tried to claim that the cuts “would have no impact on frontline services”. “Senator Scullion sits in Canberra pretending his cuts won’t have an impact while out on the ground frontline services are closing,” Senator Peris said.

She called on the Prime Minister to intervene and immediately ensure the long-term future of the NAAJA East Arnhem office.

“Mr Abbott claims to be the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Australians but so far he has done nothing – all he has is words,” Senator Peris said. “The levels of Indigenous incarceration rates in Australia are a national disgrace and Mr Abbott’s cuts will see further increases.”

Senator Peris said all Australians should be shocked to learn that there has been absolutely no assessment by the Abbott government of the impact of their Budget cuts on Closing the Gap targets.

“Mr Abbott announced he will spend a week in East Arnhem in September. Before he does he must guarantee this funding cut will be overturned,” Senator Peris said.

She said the funding cuts will actually end up costing money with incarceration costing around $100,000 annually per person. Senator Peris thanked all NAAJA staff for their efforts, described by NAAJA CEO Priscilla Collins as providing “true justice, dignity and respect for Aboriginal people in the East Arnhem region”.

Koori Mail

Next article – Redefining politics – In an age of toxicity and moral vacuum

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