Why Copwatch Exists
It’s a shocking fact that in 2018, Indigenous Australians are 13 times more likely to end up in prison and 20 times more likely to be arrested than non-Indigenous Australians. Over-policing, and police targeting and harassment of Indigenous Australians are major contributing factors to these terrible statistics.
Documenting police interactions and storing this evidence can protect Aboriginal people. This evidence can be used to prove what happened, and to ensure that systemic problems are revealed and resolved. This is an important component of building a lasting peace between Aboriginal people and police, and a foundation step for genuine reconciliation.
Consequently, the National Justice Project (NJP) is rolling out a Community Education Training program called ‘Copwatch’. This training will empower Aboriginal youth to use their smartphones to document police and community interactions safely and lawfully. Abuses of authority lead to community frustration, perpetuating negativity on all sides. With Copwatch, we hope to equip Aboriginal people with the tools to seek justice and accountability, turning this negativity around and rebuild trust with police.
The NJP is a not-for-profit human rights legal service. We work with some of Australia’s most vulnerable people and communities, providing legal support to people who struggle to access justice. George Newhouse, Principal Lawyer at the NJP explains more about Copwatch:
"Overseas experience shows both police and community members behave better when they're under scrutiny, full stop. We think there will be better behaviour all round, and that the relationship between police and communities will improve. That will ultimately end up with lower incarceration rates."
This community education strategy will help improve engagement, trust and accountability, especially between Aboriginal people and police. The program consists of:
Community training and education sessions;
The Copwatch app; and
Legal research and additional information via the Copwatch website and other channels.
Contact us to find out more, to bring Copwatch to your community or to contribute to this important work.