[LINK] One in four, from one in forty

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Fri Jul 10 00:15:49 AEST 2009

Completely off-topic to anything unimportant ..

> From:  postman at crikey.com.au>
> Date:   8 Jul 2009 16:56:29 +1000 
> Subject:  Crikey Squatter Edition: http://www.crikey.com.au/

'We jail black men five times more than apartheid South Africa'

THURSDAY 02 JULY 2009  Chris Graham writes: 

Last week, the federal government helped launch a paper entitled Bridges 
and Barriers: Addressing Indigenous Incarceration and Health.

It was prepared by the National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee 
(NIDAC) and calls for new efforts to improve Indigenous health, and 
thereby reduce Indigenous incarceration.

The report had some startling findings, and in the context of the ongoing 
Mulrunji Doomadgee outrage, and the horrendous death in custody in 
Western Australia of Mr Ward  —  a respected young Aboriginal leader who 
was cooked in the back of a prison van during a four hour trip through 
the Central Desert  —  I had expected media to get at least half 
as 'excited' about the issue as they do when reports emerge of Aboriginal
sexual abuse.

How naïve. Whatever the reason, black men and women being jailed at 
astronomical rates, apparently, doesn’t pique our interest.

The story got a sparing run across the nation, and was restricted in most 
cases to a breaking news story on websites, courtesy of an AAP yarn.

It included some startling statistics like: "One in four prisoners in 
Australia is Indigenous and their over-representation in the jail system 
is only getting worse." 

One in four is no mean feat given that in the general population, 
Indigenous Australians make up one in 40. 

And there was this: "The situation is worst in the Northern Territory, 
where 83 per cent of the prison population is Indigenous." 

That’s 83 per cent, in a jurisdiction where Aboriginal people constitute 
less than 30 per cent of the total population.

"In Western Australia, the figure is 41 per cent. Victoria has the lowest 
proportion of Aboriginal prisoners — 6 per cent of that state’s inmates are 

All pretty alarming stuff, but not enough to really capture our 
attention. So I thought I should try and ‘s-x’ it all up a little bit. 

All I can do is put the figures in some sort of context that might 
resonate a little better…. Which of course required me to read more than 
the government press release hand out.

In the first half of 2008, there were 8,411 Indigenous people enrolled in 
tertiary education . At the same time, there were 6,605 Indigenous people 
in prison. 

By comparison, for the same period there were about 696,279 non-
Indigenous Australians enrolled in tertiary education, while there were 
20,072 non-Indigenous Australians in prison.

Nowhere else on earth would you see figures where the Indigenous 
population in jail almost matches the Indigenous population in 

Indeed, Australia’s Indigenous jailing rate is the highest on earth. 

But that’s not the most startling ‘figure in context’. This one is:

The jailing rate of black males in South Africa at the end of the 
Apartheid era (1993) was 851 per 100,000 population. In Australia today, 
we jail black males at a national rate of 4,364 per 100,000.

That’s over five times higher. 

In the Northern Territory, the rate is almost six times higher. 

In fact, no state or territory of Australia — not even the
ACT — jails black 
males at a rate less than South Africa under apartheid. The closest is 
Tasmania, at 1,169 per 100,000 population. 

So Australia’s "best performer" is still almost 30 percent worse than the 
regime considered the most racist on earth.

Our worst performer — Western Australia — jails black males at
more than 
eight times the rate of South Africa during Apartheid.



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