The AJA states that as at 2003, Aboriginal people comprised 3% of the state population, 35% of the adult prison population and 73% of all youth detainees in Western Australia (AJA 2). This meant that Western Australia had 'the highest rate of Aboriginal imprisonment in Australia' (AJA 2). Furthermore, it was five times more likely that Aboriginal people would be victims of crime in Western Australia than would non-Aboriginal people (AJA 3). As at 30 June 2005, Western Australia still had 'the highest age standardised ratios of Indigenous to non-Indigenous rates of imprisonment' in Australia (ABS 2005).
Aim of the AJA
The aim of the AJA is to establish 'a framework for improving justice-related outcomes for Aboriginal people' (AHA 6). This includes five components:
'[1.] Establishing safe, secure and just communities;
[2.] Increasing the capacity of government and Aboriginal people to work in partnership;
[3.] Ensuring government meets its obligation to provide equitable access to justice-related services across the State;
[4.] Reducing contact with the justice system; and
[5.] Lowering the incarceration rate of Aboriginal people.' (AJA 6).
Outcomes of the AJA
The AJA commits the Government of Western Australia and ATSIC to three outcomes (AJA 8-9):
1. Creating safe and sustainable communities, including through enabling greater access to police services and greater protection for people who report crime.
2. Reducing the number of victims of crime, through establishing restorative justice for offenders, increasing support for victims and other measures.
3. Reducing over-representation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system, including through 'early intervention, prevention and diversionary programs', use of alternative dispute resolution and the recognition of imprisonment as a method of last resort.
Monitoring, reporting and further policies
The AJA provides for monitoring and annual reporting to Parliament through the Indigenous Affairs Advisory Council and the Cabinet Standing Committee on Social Policy (AJA 13).
The AJA is to be followed by a Western Australian Aboriginal Justice Implementation Plan, regional plans and local plans (AJA 14).
Relation to other agreements and policies
The AJA was initiated in the context of the Statement of Commitment to a New and Just Relationship between the Government of Western Australia and Aboriginal Western Australians, which enables separate agreement in areas such as health and housing and justice (AJA 5). The AJA is also informed by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the Ministerial Summit on Indigenous Deaths in Custody , Putting People First: The Western Australian State Government's Action Plan for Addressing Family Violence and Child Abuse in Aboriginal Communities, the Framework to Advance Reconciliation, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators, the Western Australian COAG Trial and the other Aboriginal Justice Agreements mentioned above (AJA 17-18).