Every election, Justice Action, a prisoners’ advocacy organisation, publishes an impartial guide to voting for people in Australia’s prisons. Just Us contains contributions from most major political parties as well as information on prisoners’ right to vote. But the South Australian Department for Correctional Services refuses to allow it - denying prisoners the right to make an informed vote.
Status: case hearing at the SA Supreme Court on 13 May 2022.
Just Us is the only independent election information distributed in prisons. Thousands of prisoners rely on it. This election, 40,000 copies of Just Us have been distributed to prisoners in every state and territory in Australia - except South Australia.
There have been repeated attempts to prevent people in Australia’s prisons from voting. In 2007, Aunty Vickie Roach, a Yuin woman serving time in Victoria, took the Commonwealth government to court to demand the right to vote. Thanks to her fight, anyone serving less than three years in jail can vote in federal and state elections.
But everyone, including prisoners, needs impartial information about where each party stands. That’s why Just Us is so important - because it lays it all out so prisoners can make an informed choice about who deserves their vote. Given the over-incarceration of First Nations people, the SA government’s decision to prohibit Just Us disproportionately affects First Nations people.
Justice Action is taking a huge risk in bringing this case. If they lose, they could face massive legal fees. But if they're successful, they won't just be getting important voting information to 1,866 voters in South Australian prisons ahead of the federal election. They will also set important precedents about prisoners’ voting rights, with the potential to affect 42,970 prisoners across the country.