Yolngu struggling with basic legalese, report finds
The Northern Territory Opposition has backed a report calling for more Aboriginal interpreters in the legal system. The research conducted by the Aboriginal Resource and Development Service shows 95 per cent of the Yolngu people from north-east Arnhem Land do not understand the meaning of the words ‘bail’, ‘consent’, ‘remand’ and ‘charge’.
Opposition leader Terry Mills says while more services are needed in the courts, the focus should be on education. Justice demands that a person going through the system understands the system, so of course there needs to be a greater capicity for interpreters in that context.
“But further than that, we need to draw attention once again to the poor level of education delivery in remote communities.” And the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency says $330 million dollars earmarked for a new prison in Darwin should be channelled towards increasing the number of Indigenous interpreters in the legal system. The agency’s Glen Dooley says the study highlights the struggle many Aboriginal people have understanding the legal system.
“We have a Government that is about to spend $330 million on a new jail, the toughening of the criminal law, all routes are leading to jail now and already one in every 23 Aboriginal men are behind bars as we speak in the Northern Territory. “It’s about time that Aboriginal people had a fair crack at the system and be able to better defended with better communication in a system where we are about to invest all this money in locking people up.” A spokeswoman for the Northern Territory Justice Minister says the Government already provides an Aboriginal Interpreter Service and has committed more than $2 million to establish a total of ten community courts which operate in communities with input from elders.