National response to Indigenous youth crime rates – Roundtable in Sydney 28 January 2011

Community organisation announcement:

The Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs is conducting a roundtable with representatives from around the nation before finalising its report into the high level of involvement of Indigenous juveniles and young adults in the criminal justice system.

The inquiry is focussing on prevention and early intervention in order to identify strategies to reduce the alarming detention and incarceration rates for Indigenous Australians. The detention rate for Indigenous juveniles is currently 28 times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous juveniles.

The roundtable will bring together a range of participants including Magistrates, State Police representatives, NGOs, academics and social researchers, drug and alcohol counsellors, justice organisations and others working in diversion and intervention fields.

Morning discussions will focus on the justice system and how it could better meet the needs of Indigenous youth in terms of initial contact, sentencing alternatives and post release assistance. In the afternoon, discussions will consider how to break the cycle of contact with the criminal justice system through changing social norms and building healthy, safe communities

The Committee Chair, Mr Shayne Neumann commented that ‘It is a tragic state of affairs that Indigenous juveniles and young adults are more likely to be incarcerated today than at any other time since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody released its seminal report in 1991. This is a shameful state of affairs.’

He added ‘The problems are complex and long standing, but we must harness the knowledge and commitment of those working in the field to bring about real change and opportunities for the future. This Committee is committed to finding solutions to reverse the trend of increasing numbers of Indigenous juveniles and young adults becoming trapped in the criminal justice system’.

The inquiry has received over 100 submissions and has conducted 17 public hearings and forums around Australia in metropolitan, regional and remote communities ranging from Darwin to Dubbo, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide, Perth and Fitzroy Crossing. This is the final hearing of the inquiry and the Committee expects to complete its report by the end of March.

The program and list of participants are available on the website at http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/atsia/sentencing/hearings/Program18.pdf


For background information, contact the Committee Secretariat on (02) 62774559 or email atsia.reps@aph.gov.au

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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley


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