The Queensland Greens say that nothing demonstrates the fiscal and social recklessness of the Newman LNP Government more than its intention to end funding for Sisters Inside.
“Today's news that the the Special Circumstances Court is to be closed down reveals a cruel and indifferent streak to this Government,” Greens spokesperson, Jim McDonald, said.
“The Special Circumstances Court deals with homeless adults charged with minor offences who are to be assessed and referred to appropriate services instead of being fined or imprisoned.
“As many of those are women, the program is supported by the work of Sisters Inside who have a spectacular record in helping 96 percent of women in their program avoid re-offending. Most of their Aboriginal clients suffer a mental health issue,” Dr McDonald said.
A Queensland Health study headed by Dr Edward Heffernan, Director of Forensic Mental Health Services, published yesterday in The Medical Journal of Australia, reveals that 86 percent of indigenous women in jail had suffered from at least one mental health disorder in the preceding 12 months.
“The social benefits of such a service are therefore incalculable in terms of improvements to the lives of the participants. It also represents significant financial savings to the Queensland Government. Each success story for Sisters Inside is a saving of tens of thousands of dollars in the prison budget.
“Yet this Government has already cut off next year's funding for the Sisters Inside program in Townsville. The program had a small budget of $120,000. It caters primarily to assisting Aboriginal women from re-offending and returning to jail. Many of those women are themselves the victims of criminal abuse.
“It is one of Campbell Newman's growing list of dumb slash-now-pay-later measures that represent a false economy, a lack of forward planning, and an indifference to the social costs. In the long run his measures will add to the financial burden on Queensland.
“It is time for Mr Newman to take a deep breath and review some of the reckless measures that will undo the good work of programs both in the Government sector and in non-government organisations like Sisters Inside."