Justice Action

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  • Latest Saeed Hearing

    On 4 September 2014 the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT) convened for Saeed Dezfouli. The hearing followed a series of meetings with the hospital that were held to address why key recommendations from the last MHRT hearing had not been implemented. Justice Health’s conduct during those negotiations demonstrated an absolute unwillingness to be held accountable for their actions and a cavalier approach to the implementation of MHRT recommendations. The Lindsay judgment giving power to the Tribunal had been ignored by the hospital. Here is our Media Release.

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  • Online Counselling in Prison Cells
    Online Counselling in Prison Cells
     

     

    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is widely accepted as facilitating positive and long-lasting changes in offenders’ behaviour. Research has shown that when offered online, CBT is more effective than face-to-face therapy. This makes online counselling especially appropriate for the prison environment where physical and confidentiality obstacles can be overcome with technology. Additionally the 18 hours isolated in a cell become useful. The opportunity to implement CBT in prisons has yet to be taken but has international interest. UK. Download paper

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  • Women in Prison Forum
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  • Prisoners' Right to Storage

    Prisoners in NSW are at risk of losing all of their personal possessions held in storage, from the time of their arrest. They were given less than two weeks notice to arrange for a person outside to collect their stored items or risk having them destroyed or sold. This situation occurred due to a change in government funding for Prisoners’ Aid Association. It maintained a storage facility for one thousand prisoners. This property includes documentation necessary for effective resettlement upon release. The right of prisoners to store their property after their arrest is not being respected, though it is clearly a legal and civil obligation. A video of interviews is here.


    prisoners right to storage picture

    Download our report here

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  • Parklea Prisoners Protest Crammed Cells

    On March 11th, 2014, the private prison manager GEO implemented a new policy that crams three young male prisoners into two person cells the size of a bathroom for 18 hours a day. This prompted the outraged prisoners to petition for an open Inquiry into its effects, who decided it, after what research and consultation, and to stop it pending the Inquiry. They said A loophole has been found by GEO's legal branch enabling GEO to bypass existing laws The beds are being installed purely for profit.

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  • iExpress

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    iExpress: Now launching prisoners & mental health patients online!

    Justice Action is proud to introduce iExpress, the world’s first prisoner webpage and interactive email system aimed at empowering people in prisons and forensic hospitals and bringing them into the digitial world, reducing the divide and social exclusion that currently exists. They will now have the opportunity to access an exciting, new channel of self-expression and communication, free of charge. Launch video here.

    We are bringing them out of the cells and onto the net! iExpress website

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  • Empowering Women Prisoners in China

    Organised by the Australian Human Rights Commission, we presented an array of issues surrounding women in prisons to the Ministry of Justice China (MOJC) and proposed changes. Eight top officials from the Ministry listened to our concerns about the rapidly expanding prison rate and our proposals about computers in cells and access to responsive health and social services, as women prisoners are the fastest growing prison demographic in Australia.

    moj pictureAbove: Justice Action presenting to the Ministry of Justice China

     

     On March 26th 2014, Justice Action (JA) and the Women in Prison Advocacy Network presented, on behalf of Australian prisoners, to the Ministry of Justice, People’s Republic of China delegation. We raised the alarming issue of women imprisonment and ways to empower prisoners to assist resettlement. The China-Australia Human Rights Technical Cooperation Program aims to build commitment with the People’s Public of China government to apply human rights principles and practices for human rights reform. This one week program focused on women in prisons.

    JA strongly advocated that the voices of people held in prisons should be heard and their independence supported. We suggest that a similar organisation to JA should be supported in China to assist with the protection, health and freedom of rights for women Prisoners in China. We provided four identified areas of concern, which are listed below:  

    1. Women are the fastest growing prison demographic in Australia, especially indigenous females.

    We noted that over a 15-year period, the number of female prisoners has significantly increased at approximately 4 times the rate of males. Furthermore, indigenous women are seriously over represented within the prison system, resulting in 33.2% of the total prison population; effectively tripling over a 15-year period. An increased level of female incarceration rates poses significant threats to the social, cultural and economic well being of families and children of these women. Statistical evidence indicates 72% of female prisoners have children, out of which 62% are the sole caregiver. This gives rise to intergenerational imprisonment, highlighted with indigenous children, comprising 50% of juvenile justice detainees.

    2. The provision of computers within cells

    We proposed that giving prisoners access to computers whilst in prison provides them the ability to effectively educate, train and empower themselves. Computers are a tool to target recidivism through education and online counselling. With the majority of prisoners spending up to 18 hours in cells, it is an efficient way to use their time productively, developing independently and safely. Access to a computer and the Internet through safe servers provides online education, employment, improved access to legal resources and communication with family, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Research suggests that online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is essentially more effective then traditional face-to-face therapy. Enabling access to online counselling services will act as a source of empowerment, potentially improving the mental health of prisoners.

    3. Responsive Health Care Services and Social Support

    We commented that access to both Health Care Services and social support plays a pivotal role in ones health and well-being. The problem in Australia is that health services are not working in a responsive matter, creating passivity, often including medication use. Social support is very important to those in prison, especially for mothers who have left commitments behind. Sixty two percent of women in prison are the sole carer of a child. Most often, women feel like they have a ‘hopeless life’, resulting in the creation of destructive pathways through the abuse of drugs, both illegal and prescribed. Ideally, prisons need collaborative programs that seek social support, family access and encouragement.

    4. The process of Strip-searching

    Finally, we stressed that strip-searching is a form of State-sanctioned violence that is similar to sexual assault and one that negatively impacts women’s psychological well-being. We proposed introducing security scanners as an alternative to strip-searching, which maintains a prisoner’s dignity in accordance with Bangkok Rule 20.

  • Community Treatment Orders

    Community Treatment Orders (CTOs) are a frequently used tool in mental health legislation that authorise the compulsory treatment of a person without their consent. This treatment is generally reduced to nothing more than arrest and forced medication. This is counterproductive and should be stopped.

    Click here for a PDF of the research paper.

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  • Minorities and Consorting Laws

    Justice Action recognises that consorting laws represent a current issue that needs to be highlighted. Recently, the Justice Action team compiled a consorting paper to provide information to the NSW Ombudsman about the impact of the consorting provisions on prisoners, ex-prisoners and the services providing these programs.


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  • National Recognition of Mad in Australia

     

    Justice Action has achieved a considerable victory! This comes from the National Mental Health Commission who, in their 2nd Report Card, has quoted our work "Mad in Australia" as expressing the voices of the people in the justice system regarding mental health. It says that those views and stated needs must be incorporated in any promising practice for changed policies in a failed system, costing up to $1,000,000 a person a year.

    This means that we will now be listened to, rather than excluded as an illegitimate outsider, with no power, especially regarding the most unpopular and socially excluded people in the community. This acknowledgement is now being used as leverage in negotiations with bureaucracies within the criminal justice sytem and government.

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  • Forced Medication in Australia: An International Perspective

    Numerous international recommendations and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) condemn forcible medication, yet it continues to be allowed under Australian law. Australia was the only country of the 79 that have ratified UNCRPD to reserve its right to forcibly medicate the disabled. For our media release click here.

    Australia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and has done much to improve the standards and mechanisms for people with disabilities in Australia. However there is still more to be done according to the recent observations of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the body of human rights experts tasked with monitoring the implementation of the Convention).  

    Click here for a PDF copy of this article.

    Click here for a DOCX copy of this article.

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  • The state’s assault on the mentally ill: The case of Michael Riley

     

     

    About Michael 

    Community Treatment Orders 

    Report of Meeting 20.1.14 MHRT and JUSTICE ACTION

    Media

     

    Michael Riley is warm, bright, gentle giant in his late 30’s. He is currently employed at a union and is the loving father of a four-and-a-half year old daughter who starts school this year. While Michael lives, works and is socially engaged in the community, he is subject to a Community Treatment Order (CTO) which has been consistently renewed for 14 years. Michael does not agree with nor does he consent to this order. His diagnosis is one of Schizoaffective Disorder - a diagnosis he rejects. 

    Interview with Michael Riley's experiences with the Mental Health System
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  • JUST US: 2013 Federal Election special edition

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    JUST US Volume 5: 2013 Federal Election special edition

    Justice Action was recently engaged in a nation wide enquiry into what efforts had been made to guarantee that all eligible prisoners and non-voluntary patients are able to vote in the upcoming election. Voting is a fundamental civil right for any citizen and nobody should be excluded from this process. Justice Action revealed a lack of adequate consideration being put into preparing that all Australians have their fair opportunity to participate in Election Day. 

    A person who is able to vote has the same voice in our democracy as every other Australian, because a prisoner gets one vote just like Rudd or Abbot when it comes to ballot time. It is a question of equality that has been fought hard to win and to preserve throughout Australian history. This issue is of vital importance for those affected and a concern for all those who value democratic values. 

    Australians who are held inside institutions against their will rely on those in charge to allow them a chance to vote. Australian prisoners who are serving a sentence of more than three years are not eligible to vote under current law. Mental health patients are vulnerable to lose their voting rights if they are deemed to be unsound of mind by a medical practitioner. There are already many challenges for eligibility to vote so those who are eligible must be given a proper chance to vote in the election. 

    Only as recently as 2007 were prisoners allowed the right to vote when Vickie Roach challenged the high court on the Howard government’s decision to take the right to vote away from prisoners. When the High Court held that the law was not valid it was a huge victory for prisoners throughout the country and for democracy. 

    All in all, Justice Action wishes you read this edition of JUST US to help you decide who you vote for on September 7. 

     


  • Prisons and Hospital Votes are Muted

    NOvote

    "Following an Australian national campaign to ensure the enrolment of people in prisons and in hospitals, the result shows that many were blocked from doing so" said Justice Action Coordinator Brett Collins.

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  • Report on A's Hearing with the Mental Health Review Tribunal

    Due to a request from the Mental Health Review Tribunal, the Justice Action team was forced to remove the names of persons related to the proceedings. Our plaintiff’s name has been replaced with ‘A’. This occurs despite the clear wishes of A to have his name publicised and the basic entitlement to freely and publicly criticise the abuses of justice done to him.

    On Thursday, 27 July 2013, the Mental Health Review Tribunal chaired by an ex-Supreme Court Justice conducted a hearing for the case of A with A’s psychiatrists. Representing for the hospital was the head of the treating team, a nurse, a registrar and others. Solicitor Peter O’Brien and 2 members of Justice Action were also there to support A. Justice Action’s publication of Mad in Australia was distributed to the hearing’s attendees.

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  • Saeed: Report on $36,000 Costs Hearing in Court of Appeal

     

     Costs appeal 28 June 2013

    The Justice Action team outside the Court of Appeal on Friday 28 June 2013

     

    Report on $36,000 Costs Hearing in Court of Appeal

    On Friday 28 June 2013, Justices Ruth McColl and Fabian Gleeson heard Saeed Dezfouli’s application for leave to appeal. Appeal is sought against the cost order of $36,000 made by Justice Johnson in the Supreme Court against Saeed and his primary carer. The decision has been reserved until a later date to be determined. If the court grants leave, a further hearing will be heard in front of three judges to determine the appeal itself.

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  • JA Report to April 2013

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    This latest Justice Action Report includes the battle of Callan Park, the use of force in prisons, progress on the detainees publication JUST US, torture and hospital inspection, death in custody, the CJC Hypothetical, music and art. It covers August 2012 to April 2013. Download here

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JA Mentoring

JA Mentoring

The JA Mentoring Project For some years now Justice Action has been exploring the idea of a 'mentoring project'. The…

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