ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: ACTCOSS welcomes ACT Ombudsman report into ACT Policing's engagement with Aboriginal communities

16 March 2021

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today welcomed the report by the Commonwealth and ACT Ombudsman, Michael Manthorpe PSM, into ACT Policing’s engagement with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities.

ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell said: “This report highlights major procedural gaps in ACT Policing’s engagement with ACT Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities in the Canberra region.

“The lack of strategic direction, procedural guidelines or reporting parameters for engagement with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities is indicative of a systemic failure to serve these communities fairly and appropriately.

“For example, ACT Policing’s failure to systematically collect and analyse data on Indigenous identification prevents assessment of unconscious bias or over-policing.

“The Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services data shows that Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples in Canberra are locked up at 19 times the rate of non-Indigenous people and constitute 24% of the ACT’s average daily prisoner population.

“While the causes of overrepresentation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples in the justice system are complex, policing attitudes and approaches are a contributing factor.

“ACTCOSS welcomes the response to the report by the ACT’s Chief Police Officer, Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan, and acknowledges efforts to improve engagement with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities.

“However, we urge ACT Policing to accept all recommendations in the report and act urgently to implement them.

“The Ombudsman’s report shows how much more needs to be done to eradicate racism and discrimination from our justice system. To this end, ACT Policing must closely involve Canberra’s Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations in the implementation of these recommendations as well as in identifying further measures to improve policing and justice outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities,” Dr Campbell concluded.

Read the ACT Ombudsman report here (pdf).

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.