Victorian Aboriginal Children and Young People's Alliance's (the Alliance) submission to Commission for Children and Young People’s Our Youth, Our Way Inquiry, finding solutions to the critical overrepresentation of Aboriginal children and young people in the criminal justice system.
Despite repeated close the gap targets for reducing Aboriginal youth incarceration, no government-led intervention has been successful in curbing the rates. There have been several promising initiatives and programs, including Koori Courts, night patrols, and community diversions, with one notable characteristic: they are Aboriginal-lead initiatives driven by community.
- Include an Aboriginal definition of social and emotional wellbeing and devise strategies to address the social, cultural, political and historic determinants of crime. Reframe Koori youth justice as a welfare issue.
- To improve social determinants of crime, justice reinvestment Programs should be allocated to Aboriginal communities at proportional rates (at a minimum) or indexed according to justice targets.
- The Victorian Government needs to recognise the Aboriginal Communities’ right to self-determination and commit to giving Aboriginal organisations greater responsibilities for Aboriginal children and young people in youth justice.
Based on their experience with Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal care and the greater responsibility for delivering child and family services, the Alliance are calling for legislative change to transfer and transform the care children and young people receive. They are calling for self-determination that recognises Aboriginal rights, and provides adequate resources to meet responsibilities to reduce the overrepresentation and stop the trajectory of children and young people entering the justice system.