A new initiative by the National Justice Project
The National Justice Project has launched the Copwatch program to train Aboriginal communities about using mobile phones to document instances of harassment by authorities.
We have received complaints about instances of Aboriginal people in Australia being aggressively stopped, searched and manhandled; often for no good reason. Our aim is to empower communities to make their voices heard by becoming citizen journalists skilled in the use of social media. Communities want us to bring legal and media training to them, so they can share their stories.
Training will be provided to communities who seek our assistance, with several Aboriginal communities already expressing strong interest in participating.
Research shows that when interactions between police and citizens are recorded, both sides act differently and complaints by both sides are greatly reduced. Transparency and accountability leads to better policing and better relationships with the community.
The National Justice Project will send human rights lawyers and media professionals to interested communities to deliver training on using mobile phone technology, social media, and on the law around safely filming police interactions and other authority figures.
Darumbal woman and journalist Amy McQuire said: "Over the course of my career in journalism, I have spoken to countless First Nations people who have been left deeply affected by police brutality and over-policing in their communities.”
"Copwatch is one way we can begin to help inform Aboriginal communities of their rights, and will give us the tools to keep the police accountable, and help make our communities safer.”
End Black Deaths in Custody campaigner Shaun Harris said "I hope that Copwatch will educate and empower our community to enforce rights that everybody has in this country. Anything that amplifies the voices of Aboriginal peoples can only be regarded as positive and part of getting justice for my niece Ms Dhu.”
Communities need to know what their legal rights are and how to share their stories - pitch in to help us reach more communities.