A federal inquiry into Aboriginal justice has described the rate of Indigenous youth in Australian prisons as being a "national crisis".
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs tabled the "Doing Time - Time for Doing" Report into Indigenous youth in the criminal justice system on Monday (20 June). The report said that Aboriginal youth are 28 more times likely to be incarcerated that non-Aboriginal youth, and described the overrepresentation of Indigenous juveniles in jails as being worse now than it was 20 years ago - when the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report was first released.
"It does make depressing reading but unfortunately we've known for some time now that the statistics are heading in the wrong direction," said Western Australian chief justice Wayne Martin on ABC Radio yesterday. He added that there was no "silver bullet" to fox the problem, and advocated that policy makers "think laterally".
"Whatever the solutions are, we haven't found them," he said.
The Standing Committee made 40 recommendations. This included accommodation options for Indigenous youth granted bail, a national agreement to meeting specific justice targets, addressing health issues amongst Aboriginal youth, including hearing impairments and Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and the creation of an Indigenous Law and Justice Advisory Capacity body.
The House of Representatives Standing Committee that produced the report consisted of seven members of Parliament and was chaired by Labor MP Shayne Neumann.