Police officers across the Northern Territory will be required to call a 24/7 legal "telephone hotline" for all Indigenous people taken into custody.
The landmark move is a historic first for the Territory which will give Indigenous people access to fundamental legal advice and a welfare check.
Introduced by the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency this week, the Custody Notification Service is about increasing safety at a time Indigenous deaths in custody are on the rise, and providing people with dignity, NAAJA principal legal officer, David Woodroffe said.
"We know there is an increased number of Aboriginal people ending up in court systems and prison systems.
"This recognises Aboriginal people in custody are vulnerable for a number of reasons - health, age, communication skills - and our service aims to look after the welfare of these people."
Mr Woodroffe said prior to the introduction of the CNS the needs of vulnerable people were not always being met.
"Without the service Aboriginal people were more vulnerable... their welfare needs were not always looked after and there was a lack of people knowing their rights.
"These people are not always likely to disclose to police what their needs are... now we can look after health, well being and assist people to engage with police.
"Most fundamentally we see people lose connections with family and networks, and that needs to change."
The service will also help connect people coming out of custody to agencies such as women's shelters or crisis accommodations.
"This can help people with health issues, or experiencing domestic violence or homelessness," Mr Woodroffe said.
Police will be required to call a central number which diverts to the phone of a rostered solicitor or Indigenous support worker, who will undertake a welfare check and provide legal advice to the person in custody.
The service is provided 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
"Police will provide the solicitor with details of the person in custody and why, how long they have been in custody, whether bail is likely and any other pertinent information with regards to their health and mental state," Mr Woodroffe said.
"The solicitor or Aboriginal support worker undertakes a welfare check on the client and details any concerns in relation to physical and mental health, including risk of self-harm."
Australia's incarceration rates are at their highest levels in 120 years, and the Indigenous incarceration rate, at 2.5 per cent, is higher than the incarceration rate of African-Americans, a new report has found.
The CNS program has been funded jointly by the NT Government and the Federal Government.
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