RLC in the Media: Black Lives Matter - A Roadmap for Policing and Justice Reform

In August, ABC Radio National aired highlights from an online discussion calling for policing and justice reform in Australia, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Facilitated by Larissa Behrendt (UTS). Broadcast by Speaking Out, ABC Radio National.

Presented by Redfern Legal Centre, National Justice Project, UTS Jumbanna House of Learning, and Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT), the discussion was held on 23 July 2020. It brought together leading academic and legal experts to debate the impact of policing and the criminal justice system on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The United States is about to propose a bill to reform policing, so it begs the question: with more than 434 Aboriginal deaths in custody since the 1991 Royal Commission, and seemingly no action on the alarmingly high rates of Indigenous incarceration, what reforms should occur here and who is best placed to implement them?

Part one of the discussion focussed on police accountability and decolonising justice – what does it look like and how can we achieve it?

RLC's police accountability solicitor, Samantha Lee, highlighted the impact of police powers and strip searches, which disproportionately target First Nations communities, including children as young as ten years old. 

“[Police] don’t sit outside a government body," Ms Lee said.

"And for this reason, they are obligated to meet the same requirements as other government departments and that is transparency, a level of integrity and a level of accountability, but police are quite unique in terms of their powers. Their powers are extraordinary and with that power comes an extraordinary responsibility.” 

 Speakers include:

  • Industry Professor of Indigenous Policy at the Jumbunna Institute, Lindon Coombes
  • Professor of Criminology at the Jumbunna Institute, Chris Cuneen.
  • Police Accountability Solicitor at Redfern Legal Centre, Samantha Lee
  • NSW Greens MLC, David Shoebridge.

Listen to part one of the broadcast here (ABC Speaking Out, 25 August 2020)