LONG JOURNEY: Paulene Houston, Julieanne Eisemann, Carmel Knox, Haylea Fuller, Ipswich MP Jennifer Howard and Rod Fuller outside the Ipswich Courthouse.
LONG JOURNEY: Paulene Houston, Julieanne Eisemann, Carmel Knox, Haylea Fuller, Ipswich MP Jennifer Howard and Rod Fuller outside the Ipswich Courthouse. Lachlan McIvor

Murri Court reinstated in Ipswich

SINCE it was shut down in 2012 due to funding cuts, Uncle Rod Fuller has spent the past several years fighting hard for the Murri Court to return to Ipswich.

The proud Wulli Wulli man and local Aboriginal Elder said it had been a "long journey" but he had been vindicated following the announcement it would return next week.

Included in the State Budget was $899,000 for the Murri Court at the Ipswich Courthouse to be reopened after it was scrapped by Campbell Newman's government in December 2012.

Murri Court aims to deliver a culturally appropriate court process that respects and acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

"The impact was great (when it closed)," he said.

"The affect was great on the community and that meant our people had to go through the mainstream system and there was very little culture in the process.

"There was a big increase in the number of our people going into the judicial system."

Uncle Rod works as a court support officer for not-for-profit organisation Five Bridges, which delivers programs and services focused on assisting local Indigenous people.

"We have over 9000 Aboriginal people in the Ipswich policing area," he said.

"Don't get the impression in Murri Court they will be come in (and) get a free ride, it's far from it.

"It's a cultural thing and it's a good program and it will work."

Member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard said she was delighted to see the program reinstated.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are over-represented in our prison systems," she said.

"When the LNP government scrapped the funding for it the idea was to save money but what it did was increase the chances of vulnerable people re-offending.

"28 per cent of all prisoners in Australia are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They only make up 3.3 per cent of the population. Of those in prison, 24 per cent are in Queensland.

"It was started (in Ipswich) in 2002 and it started from urging and agitating from Elders and from magistrates who were interested in trialling this program. We don't need to reinvent it, it worked and I'm really happy to see it (back)."

The Murri Court will officially reopen on June 18 by Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath and the first cases will be heard two days later.



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