Chief Executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society, Dr John Falzon, made the following statement at a press conference held at Australian Parliament House on June 18, 2012. The press conference was called to oppose the Stronger Futures legislation and was also addressed by Aboriginal Elders from the Northern Territory and Bankstown, as well as representatives from the Catholic Church, the Uniting Church, the Australian Lawyers Alliance and other church and community organisations.
It is with deep sadness that we must remember that since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its final recommendations over 20 years ago there have been 270 Aboriginal deaths in custody.
The Stronger Futures legislation stands to increase the rate of Aboriginal incarceration.
It stands to take away people’s power over their lives.
You don’t build a community up by putting its people down.
You don’t build a strong and inclusive Australia by locking people out or locking them up.
We therefore respectfully support the call by so many Aboriginal Elders for a future based on dignity, mutual respect, partnership and self-determination.
We call on the Senate to reject the Stronger Futures legislation because it maps out a future based on social control.
We are here today because what we want is a future based on social justice.