Submission to the Yoorrook Justice Commission on the Systemic Injustice in the Criminal Justice and Child Protection Systems

In March 2023, following Antoinette Braybrook’s evidence in December 2022, Djirra provided a written submission to the Yoorrook Justice Commission’s Inquiries on the Systemic Injustice in the Criminal Justice and Child Protection Systems.

Djirra’s submission outlines our experience as an ACCO specialising in supporting and empowering women who have experienced family violence. Djirra sees the intersecting ways Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are let down by the system, punished by harsh criminal justice and child protection policies that are compounded by failures in housing and other support services. We see this in our family violence and child protection legal matters, our prison outreach, and our wraparound supports and workshops. So often women who experience family violence end up at the harsh end of a punitive system, incarcerated for minor offences or with their children removed.

The answer is not more prisons or money for removing kids and placing them in out of home care. It is in prioritising preventative measures – and investing in specialist organisations such as Djirra to provide culturally safe specialist services, housing, case management, specialist legal advice and representation – that our women are supported to escape the cycles established and sustained by the ongoing impacts of colonisation.

Governments must listen to, trust and invest in Djirra as a specialist organisation to develop and deliver self-determined measures. We have the lived experience, we have the solutions and we must determine our own.