Police and Prison Accountability
We understand the challenges of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and seeks to address them, ensuring that the truth is heard and that the voices of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are at the forefront.
Through Wirraway, our Police and Prison Accountability Practice, VALS seeks to increase our advocacy on matters including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody, mass imprisonment, and racist policing.
We aim to:
- Ensure greater accountability in police misconduct, corrections services, other Government departments and in policy activity to promote and drive change.
- End mass imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by repealing punitive bail laws; mandatory sentencing laws; and decriminalising public drunkenness,
- Stop the imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, raising the age of legal responsibility from 10 to at least 14 years.
The Practice seeks to champion the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that would not ordinary be able to access such advocacy.
We are committed to supporting the just treatment and just outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout Victoria, seeking increased advocacy opportunities.
The Police and Prison Accountability team is also committed to working with Corrections Victoria and Victoria Police to see better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to promote improved police practices within the Victoria Police, that are informed by cultural understanding of the Aboriginal people of Victoria.
Our mission statement
VALS is horrified that there have been 432 Aboriginal deaths in custody since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody just over 30 years ago. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to struggle to have their voices heard. They have faced and continue to face generational challenges. The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) has been fighting for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders since 1973. VALS echoes the calls of our community that the following needs to happen:
- Stop imprisoning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and raise the age of legal responsibility from 10 to at least 14 years.
- End racist policing and require police accountability by ending the practice of police investigating police and legislating for independent investigations of deaths in custody and resourcing independent police oversight bodies.
- Implement all recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the countless independent investigations, coronial inquests and reports that have been published in the three decades since.
- End the abuse, torture and solitary confinement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in police and prison cells through legislative safeguards and by urgently establishing independent bodies to oversee the conditions of detention and treatment of people; in accordance with our obligations under the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT)