Lismore school kids on a big mission for change
LISMORE students studying criminal justice are pushing to secure a Youth Koori Court in order to provide indigenous children with a better chance.
The Living School students have been learning about human rights as part of their studies, and with the assistance of lawyer Eddie Lloyd, have learnt about the inequalities throughout the justice system.
The students, aged 12 to 14, are petitioning the NSW parliament to establish at Koori Court in Lismore, a program aimed at providing a greater focus on rehabilitation and not punishment.
The Koori Court, which currently exists in Parramatta and Surry Hills, has proven to be successful in turning indigenous youths' lives around and connecting them back with their elders, community and culture, according to the children.
The court program has also successfully reduced the likelihood of youth ending up in adult custody and reducing the risk of another Aboriginal death in custody.
Amelie Osta-Meier, 14, said she was disgusted with what she'd learnt about how the justice system can be prejudicial to Aboriginal people.
She said she believed a Koori Court in the long run would be a "better investment" in rehabilitation than sending Aboriginal children to jail, which can cost about $200,000 a year.
"The justice system is quite biased, they're normalising racism," she said.
"Aboriginal people and indigenous Australians have been suppressed for so long that they're obviously going to need to extra assistance."
"The people who are in charge are not … fixing it.
"They could save so much money as well."
Griffin Lee, 13, said he hoped the petition, which required 20,000 signatures to reach parliament, would gain traction.
"We're trying to get signatures to a Koori Court in Lismore because the Aboriginal kids can be more calm and not as stressed when they have a magistrate towering over them," Griffin said.
Representatives from CASPA, the Aboriginal Legal Service and Rekindling the Spirit joined the children as they marched to Lismore MP Janelle Saffin's office to present their petition.
They've created posters with QR codes and plan to put them up around town in the hopes people will sign the petition.
For more information, or to sign the petition, visit www.parliament.nsw.gov.au.