ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PRISONER NUMBERS SOAR

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people in prison has increased by 84 per cent over the past decade, according to a new Australian Bureau Statistics (ABS) report.  The ABS annual report on Australian prisons, shows the number of prisoners in Australia reached a 10-year high of 33,791 atJune 30 this year. “The 10-year high comes on the back of the largest annual increase in prisoner numbers since 2004,” said William Milne from the ABS. “Both the number of male and female prisoners has increased by 10 per cent over the last year, continuing their 10-year upward movement.

“The annual increase in prisoner numbers has also pushed the national imprisonment rate up to a 10-year high of 185.6 prisoners per 100,000 adult persons. Queensland experienced the largest annual increase in prisoner numbers, up 16 per cent, followed by Victoria, up 14 per cent. The only state to have an annual fall in prisoner numbers was Tasmania, where it fell 7 per cent. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners accounted for 27 per cent of the total Australian prisoner population. In 2004 there were 5048 ATSI people in prison, a figure that leapt to 9264 in 2014 — an increase of 83.52 per cent over 10 years.

Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards said: “We know that this is not making the community safer and instead our justice system is struggling to cope with the consequences of reforms. We are seeing increasing numbers of people are getting stuck in the justice system, with the proportion who have previously served a sentence increasing by five per cent.” Additionally, there have been large increases in the number of vulnerable people in prison, including women (30 per cent) and Aboriginal people (63 per cent) during the past four years. Ms Edwards says the costs associated with the increased spending — having grown from $492.6 million in 2009-10 to $942.1 million in 2014-15 — are staggering.

“Serious questions need to be asked about the effectiveness of this enormous increase in resources, particularly as the most recent Victorian crime statistics showed an increase in the rates of many crimes. “This is evidence that we are not seeing increased imprisonment having a positive impact on crime, and that we need to ensure scarce taxpayers’ funds are directed to where they will be effective,” she says. Ms Edwards says that sustained investment in tackling the underlying disadvantage behind crime is crucial in creating safer communities. “Recent justice policy in Victoria has ignored the evidence of what works and we are now seeing the costly outcome of overflowing, ineffective prisons.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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GOVERNMENT TO INCREASE REFUGEE INTAKE

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison secured last minute support from Independent Senators for the government’s controversial Migration Act, which will result in him increasing the annual humanitarian intake of refugees from 13,750 to 18,750 over the next four years once the bill which has passed the Senate is approved by the House of Representatives where the Government has the numbers to pass it. But the increase will only happen once the backlog of the 30,000 asylum seekers who arrived under Labor has been cleared. He also announced that while the asylum seekers are processed, he would offer them work rights. Mr Morrison needed 6 crossbenchers to agree to the changes for the bill to pass.

The approved changes give the government sweeping new maritime powers and allows it to distance itself from the United Nations Refugee Convention. The bill will also reintroduce temporary protection visas, which give asylum seekers work rights, but never allow them to permanently resettle in Australian. In negotiations with cross bench Senators, Mr Morrison also introduced five-year Special Humanitarian Enterprise Visas, which could allow asylum seekers to apply for additional visas, such as a 457 visa, but, the minister said, would not lead to a permanent protection visa. Mr Morrison said he wanted children out of the Christmas Island detention centre by Christmas.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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HOMOSEXUALITY NOT NEARLY AS PREVALENT AS GENERALLY PROMOTED

In 2003 there was a major survey, of around 20,000 people, in Australia – called the Australian Study of Health and Relationships. Researchers questioned people about sexual behaviour and preferences.  The 2003 report found that “Among men, 97.4% identified as heterosexual, 1.6% as gay or homosexual and 0.9% as bisexual. Among women, 97.7% identified as heterosexual, 0.8% as lesbian or homosexual and 1.4% as bisexual.” Ten years on, the researchers have completed a second study. The 2013 survey again asked around 20,000 people about commitment, infidelity, frequency of sex, pornography, time online, etc. It also asked about homosexuality.

The survey was concluded in November 2013 and first reports of the Study having just been published in the Journal, Sexual Health. On the subject of homosexuality, the recent survey found that there were more instances of women having sexual relationships with women – in 2003, 8.8% said they had ever (at least once) had a sexual encounter with a woman – in 2013 it was almost 15%. The lead researcher, Prof Juliet Richters, put it down to ‘more permissive attitudes’ especially amongst women within society generally. The researchers found however that there had not been a similar change in men. The 2014 report noted that 97% of men and 96% of women identify as heterosexual

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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