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Justice Bites a meaty forum in Bendigo

SPEAKERS: Deputy Ombudsman of Victoria John Taylor, Flat Out co-ordinator Phoebe Barton, human rights advocate Charandar Singh, Flat Out executive officer Annie Nash and RMIT’s Peter Norden. Picture: BILL CONROYRELATED: Justice a community issue, forum told
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REFORM in the justice system wasamong the weightytopics covered in apublic forum about human rights and imprisonmentin Bendigotoday.

VictorianDeputyOmbudsmanJohn Taylor,human rights advocate Charandev Singh andformer prison chaplain and RMIT professorPeter Nordon were among theguestspeakers at the Justice Bites forum,held atLa Trobe Uni’s Visual Arts Centre from 2pm until 4pm.

Theforum was the joint initiative of the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre and the Centre for the Human Rights of Imprisoned People (CHRIP) and followedthe success of a similarTalking Justice forum in Bendigo in May.

As part of his presentation, Mr Taylor provided a review of the role of the Ombudsman in relation to prisoner complaintsand presented statistics which he said showed imprisonment rates were increasing as part of a “worrying trend” with “resources not going up in proportion”.

Mr Taylor lamented the prison system’s “failure to address even the most minor complaints” andsaidbroader issues in the prison population like recidivism, a decline in interest inrehabilitation programs and alarmingnumbers of men and womenwho became homelessness on release from prison were being overlooked.

Mr Singh,a paralegal with decadesof experience in deaths in custody and detention, firstspoke about his own journey as ahuman rights worker.

“The only work I needed to do was the hardest work there was to be done,” he said.

He said prisons were a place of “extreme disadvantage and extreme disability” andspoke passionately about his views on the state ofprison systems in Australia.

“The prison system is not broken,” he said.

“The prison system is operating how it always andcontinuouslyintended to operate.It breaks people.

“It amplifies the impact of the harm on people’s lives, it fails to make anyone accountable.”

He believed it was “a system not capable of fundamental reform”.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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