ALHR calls for funding of the Custody Notification Service (CNS)

ALHR has called on the Commonwealth Attorney-General and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs to take urgent action to secure funding for the Custody Notification Service (CNS) operated by Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW & ACT) Limited (ALS).

There have been no deaths in police custody in NSW or the ACT since the phone line began in 2000. The CNS is a rare example of an extremely successful program that resulted from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. ALHR has grave fears that adverse outcomes for Aboriginal persons in custody will worsen if the CNS does not exist.

In our submission, failure to fund the CNS not only raises issues concerning the implementation of Royal Commission recommendations on custodial health and safety and prison experience, it would also therefore not be consistent with the spirit of Article 10(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 7 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The cost of funding the CNS phone line is only $526,000 per year whilst the cost of holding a juvenile in detention for one year is more than $240,000.

Without the CNS Indigenous Australians living in NSW and the ACT are potentially vulnerable to disproportionately high rates of deaths in custody and the Federal Government will have failed in implementing the human rights protections recommended by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

Our full submissions are attached.