The Andrews Labor Government is taking action to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal young people in the criminal justice system with the formation of a new taskforce.
Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos said the Aboriginal Youth Justice Taskforce will be the first of its kind established in Victoria and will examine the cases of about 250 Aboriginal young people in the youth justice system over 18 months.
Approximately 16 per cent of those in Victoria’s youth justice system identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, despite making up just 1.6 per cent of the general population aged between 10 and 18.
Taskforce 250 will be led by the independent Commission for Children and Young People and will examine the current care of Aboriginal young people within youth justice and identify issues that impact on their development and cultural connectedness.
The taskforce is modelled on the success of Taskforce 1000, which highlighted systemic issues that impacted on the needs of Aboriginal young people in out-of-home care between 2014 and 2016, which led to major reforms introduced by the Labor Government.
Aboriginal communities and young people will be involved in the taskforce to identify issues, with Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People Justin Mohamed to co-chair the steering committee.
Taskforce 250 addresses a recommendation made in the landmark Armytage/Ogloff review and is supported with $1.9 million over two years through the Victorian Budget 2018/2019.
It is part of a total $10.8 million to provide culturally specific supports to improve the rehabilitation of Aboriginal young people and an Elders Support Program in which young people are provided cultural leadership through mentors and positive role models.
An additional $5.04 million will continue the expanded Koori Youth Justice Program, which aims to prevent offending or reoffending by ensuring young Aboriginal people are connected to their families and communities and other services.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos
“We are determined to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal young people in our criminal justice system.”
“This Victorian-first taskforce will allow us to examine the reasons behind this and consider what more needs to be done to improve the rehab prospects of those young people.”
Quote attributable to Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People Justin Mohamed
“The Aboriginal Youth Justice Taskforce will play an important role in identifying and addressing the structural causes driving the unacceptable overrepresentation of Aboriginal children and young people in youth justice.”