About 20 people attended the launch on February 15 of a campaign aimed at countering the "law and order race to the bottom" in the lead-up to Victoria's state election in November.
The "Stop failing our kids" campaign, initiated by the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA), aims to get thousands of people to send postcards to Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews.
Demands include keeping young people out of adult jails; rejecting lockdowns, isolation and the use of the riot squad in juvenile justice facilities; high quality education, recreation and health programs; no imprisonment of untried juveniles; and imprisonment only as the last resort.
The campaign also opposes the plan to build a new youth prison, and calls for the $288 million allocated for this project to be spent on health, housing, education and social welfare programs.
Lidia Thorpe, recently elected Greens MP for the state seat of Northcote, launched the postcard campaign. A Gunnai-Gunditjmara woman who has had a life-long passion for justice and has long supported the struggle to prevent Aboriginal deaths in custody, Thorpe, spoke of the need for prevention, rather than "tough on crime" policies. She said education is essential, but Aboriginal kids are often discouraged from going to school. She also said that connections with family, culture, country and language are vital.
ISJA activist Alison Thorne also spoke, commemorating Aboriginal teenager TJ Hickey, who died as a direct result of a police chase by Redfern police 14 years ago. The racial profiling that lead to TJ’s death is one of the systemic problems that the Stop Failing Our Kids campaign is working to eradicate, making it very fitting that TJ was remembered at the launch.