Indigenous youngsters 9 occasions extra prefer to be in custody than non-Indigenous youngsters in Victoria

Victoria’s incarceration rate for indigenous children is below the national average of 24.8 per 10,000, compared to a rate of 1.4 for non-indigenous children.


Nationally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are 18 times more likely to be in detention and 17 times more likely to be affected by community-based oversight than non-indigenous young people.

Successive reports for decades have shown worrying incarceration rates among young Indians. A Productivity Commission report on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Welfare published in December found that while most indigenous people have never been to jail, they were exposed to more risk factors that made it more likely, including unemployment, low socioeconomic status and poor mental health Health.

Last year, Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt announced new judicial targets to reduce incarceration rates as part of the Close the Gap policy. He pledged to reduce the incarceration rate of indigenous adults by at least 15 percent for adults and at least 30 percent for youth by 2031.

Cheryl Axleby, co-chair of the Aboriginal judicial coalition Change the Record, said Wednesday’s report showed that “children of Aboriginal and islanders of Torres Strait are still being arrested by police, brought to justice, and in far higher rates Police and prison cells are thrown as their non-children. ” – Indigenous school friends “.

“Our children deserve a future. They deserve the same opportunity to learn and grow as any other child, and governments are denying them those opportunities when they lock our children behind bars, “she said.

Victorian Aboriginal Legal Services director Nerita Waight said the number of children detained was “shameful and their treatment alarming,” adding that the detained children were exposed to long periods of isolation during the pandemic.

“We have serious concerns about their welfare. A prime minister and government that claim to be the most progressive in the country should adhere to higher standards and end these practices immediately, “she said.

“Victoria is still a long way from fulfilling its obligations under the Aboriginal Justice Agreement and the closing of the loophole.”

The report also showed that indigenous children were over-represented in the child protection system in Victoria.

The rate per 1,000 children between the ages of zero and 17 in Victoria outpatient care was 99.8 for Indigenous children and 4.7 for non-Indigenous children. This compares to a national rate of 56.3 for indigenous children and 5.1 for non-indigenous children.

Cheryl Axleby, co-chair of the Aboriginal-led justice coalition Change the Record.

Victoria’s Commissioner for Children and Youth Liana Buchanan said the number of children and youth detained in Victoria has declined slightly, along with the average number of Indigenous children in detention.

“However, indigenous children and youth were nine times more likely to be detained than their non-indigenous peers, and it will take a lot of work to change that,” she said.

“The report also shows that indigenous children and adolescents are 19 times more likely than their non-indigenous peers to be brought into care outside the home … The massive overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in the care system is unacceptable State priority. “

Victoria Youth Justice Minister Natalie Hutchins said the government has allocated $ 11.8 million in budget to implement an Aboriginal youth justice strategy aimed at tackling the over-representation of young Aboriginal people and the incarcerated islanders of Torres Strait .

“We need to do more to help young Aboriginal Victorians strengthen their connections with the community and family – and give them every chance to get the most of their lives and avoid contact with the judicial system,” said she.

Victorian youth justice opposition spokesman Brad Battin said the report showed that recidivism rates were “out of control” among youth in the state, referring to data within the report that showed that more than 60 percent of young people, those released from convicted custody returned to convicted custody within 12 months in 2017-18.

“Daniel Andrews has ignored the chaos and dysfunction in Victoria’s juvenile justice system and put lives in danger,” he said.

It comes therefore that Australia’s human rights record, including issues related to the incarceration rate of indigenous peoples, should be scrutinized Wednesday evening by countries like Poland and Germany during a United Nations review of world periods.

Countries asked questions in advance, including questions about the age of criminal responsibility and the over-representation of indigenous peoples in Australian prisons.

The Raise the Age coalition, an alliance of organizations working to raise the age of crime in Australia from 10 to at least 14, said pressure on Australia to take action has increased.

“Raising the ages is one measure that Australian governments can take right now that will have an immediate – and intergenerational – impact to end the over-incarceration of First Nations children and provide our children with a better future,” said Priscilla Atkins, the Co.- Chairman of the Legal Department of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

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Simone is a crime reporter for The Age. Most recently she reported breaking news for The Age and before that for The Australian in Melbourne.

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