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First Peoples

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Critical condition: the impact of COVID-19 policies, policing and prisons on First Nations communities

First Peoples incarceration COVID-19 Juvenile offenders Police Police power First Peoples health Youth justice Australia

This report aims to provide a national overview of the Critical Condition of First Nations communities during COVID-19. It contains observations, testimonials and evidence collected by member organisations who work on the frontline across the health, legal and community sectors, and every day navigate the impacts of COVID-19 policies on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Key Findings:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are grossly overrepresented in both the adult and youth criminal justice systems. This means that many of the people who are statistically most vulnerable to the worst impacts of Covid-19 are trapped in some of the most high risk environments with regards to virus spreading.
  • Family violence prevention services have reported that closures of residential drug and alcohol facilities have resulted in people being sent home and no new referrals being accepted. The lack of adequate safe and secure accommodation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has only been exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis.
  • The report recommends that the age of criminal responsibility be raised from 10 to at least 14 years old and urgently
    release children and young people from youth detention centres during Covid-19.
  • The Government should also Implement immediate short-term changes in legislation, where applicable, in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out of home care to ensure parents don’t lose their children to permanent care during Covid-19.
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