Past Campaigns

Past Campaigns

As the only group invited to make an oral presentation to the Senate Inquiry into the Crimes (Forensic Procedures) Act in December 2000, we defended the privacy of human genetic material against the top four experts from the Attorney-General and the Federal Police.

Distributed the only questionnaire to prisoners during the NSW Drug Summit 1999 and had six MP crossbenchers write, “the participation of Justice Action is absolutely crucial to deliberations at the Summit”.

Took up a position as a foundation member on the Justice Health Consumer Council monitoring the health of all NSW prisoners.

Consistently pressured the government to control the spread of blood borne communicable diseases in prisons through the immediate availability of condoms, clean syringes and dental dams.

Initiated ex-prisoner Richard Lynott's case against the government for negligence due to their failure to supply clean needles and syringes in prison, causing his death.

In conjunction with Pride, Justice Action succeeded in having the KM1 herbal trial available for HIV+ prisoners.

In conjunction with TAFE, created a community mentoring course with special modules to address the needs of those in tension with the law. The 22 graduates were mainly ex-prisoners.

Coordinated the Justice Action Mulawa Project, which saw volunteer law students and solicitors visiting Mulawa Correctional Centre weekly, and the circulation of plain English legal/prison issue booklets into Mulawa.

Justice Action co-hosted the first national conference of Community-based Criminal Justice Activists.

Initiated the computer project, which had over 100 computers donated to prisons from the corporate and community

Forced the exposure and reform of the corrupt police practice of concocting confessions called the police “verbal”.

Hosted the defence of those accused of the Hilton Hotel bombing and employed the coordinator of the successful Anderson, Dunn and Alister campaign.

Lobbied for the Wood Royal Commission and brought evidence on numerous issues including wrongful convictions and followed for case reviews.

Prisoners' Rights

Assisted the successful High Court challenge to return the prisoner right to vote. We were asked to present the case for prisoners before the Senate Inquiry in 2006.

After the Nagle Royal Commission exposures and government inaction, ran a private prosecution against ten Grafton and Bathurst prison officers and a doctor for 4 months working with law students
and thirty-two prisoner witnesses.

Facilitated the creation of the Australian Prisoners Union in 1999.

Successfully defended the prisoners’ right to vote nationally in 1997, giving the only oral evidence at the Senate Inquiry.

Part of the initiating committee for the NSW Prisoners Legal Service following the Nagle Royal Commission.

Held the position as Australian Coordinator for International Prison Watch.

Initiated recommendations made in the Prison Visitors Survey Report and worked with Corrective Services to propose changes.

Opposition of Department of Health’s attempts to implement smoke free policies in NSW mental health inpatient facilities

Hosted the defence of those accused of the Hilton Hotel bombing and employed the coordinator of the successful Anderson, Dunn and Alister campaign.

There has been a disturbing and growing trend for prison authorities to ban prisoners from having access to legitimate published materials that are freely available in the community. This isolates prisons from the community and extends the exclusion to ideas and civil interaction. Recent examples include the banning of prisoners in some states from receiving '‘How to Vote’' cards at election times which is widely seen as unconstitutional and the banning of our nationally published newspaper Just Us from prisons in 3 states (5 states and territories allow it in).

Our newspapers have been distributed nationally in all prisons in all states and territories and to all judges and politicians in Australia for many years (in fact, for 47 editions under the masthead, Framed). In NSW legal proceedings were taken late last year by a former inmate in the Supreme Court seeking an order that a refusal by Corrective Services to allow our newspaper's distribution in NSW prisons be lifted. Although he was unsuccesssful because of a technical problem with his legal standing, the Judge commented that she did not see anything in the publication 'that could be said to prejudice the good order of the prisons.' and had real doubts as to whether the Commissioner had considered the paper on its merits.

Initiated the Stop the Women's Jail Campaign after the government rejection of the 126 submissions against the prison and only Corrective Services for it. Employed Kerry Nettle (later Senator) as the Coordinator.

Worked with Women Behind Bars to successfully change the law on provocation in domestic violence murder cases, around the Bruce and Violet Roberts Blockade.

In consultation with women at Emu Plains Correctional Centre, fought administrational changes to all day visitations that reduced the amount of time mothers were able to spend with their children. In May 2007, the administration changed the visiting regime without consultation, by introducing 2 hour visiting blocks separated by a lunch break. The effect caused significant distress to mothers and their children yet the administration said that the mothers wanted it - a lie! 

JA received numerous letters of complaint from women prisoners. In addition many state and local parliamentarians, churches and community groups have been vocal in their criticism of the Department’s actions and outraged by its insensitivity. Questions were asked in Parliamentary hearings, lies told and exposed and a representative of JA was even banned from visiting all NSW prisons for talking to and handing out leaflets to other visitors.

JA worked with Mission Australia to conduct a series of mentoring workshops for many young people in the Campbelltown/ Hornsby area of Sydney, who have been identified as being at risk of becoming offenders.

The JA mentoring presentation is designed to assist them to understand the consequences of their actions based on our experiences and work through ways to ensure they do not offend. We encourage them to develop personal and social skills so that they can move forward with their lives in positive and productive ways. We link them to local services and to training opportunities.

A legislative proposal went before the NSW Parliament to discourage children from committing offences by publicly naming and shaming them if they offend. JA was invited to make written and personal submissions on the proposal to the Legislative Council Law and Justice Committee. When we appeared before the committee our major submission was that the emphasis in dealing with juvenile offenders should not be on naming and shaming but on restorative programs of which JA Mentoring is a prime example. The committee made up of representatives from all sides of politics showed considerable interest in our mentoring program and how it worked and its many successes.

Hosted the Eleventh International Conference on Penal Abolition ICOPA XI in Tasmania in 2006 and organised it for London in 2008.

Supervised hundreds of people on community service orders since 1984.

Coordinated the NSW Criminal Justice Coalition for two and a half years.

Justice Action was acknowledged in Parliament by Liberal barrister Jeremy Kinross as “consistently standing for truth”.


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