Aboriginal kids belong in classrooms, not courtrooms

NACCHO  supporting the Generation One campaign for generation change

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Yet a series of media reports regarding the incarceration rates of Indigenous youth shows the appalling rate of young people who are entering, and being trapped in, the justice system.

As a nation, we need to take action.

Like many Australians, at GenerationOne we believe that diversionary programs focussing on education and employment are crucial to reversing the statistics.

Through a Vocational Training and Employment Centre (VTEC) a holistic approach can be used to ensure our young people don’t enter the criminal justice system.

The VTEC model works for Indigenous people who have been long term unemployed – we can replicate this for Indigenous youth who are at risk of falling through the cracks.

The facts are:

  • On an average day in 2011-12 Indigenous youth were 31 times as likely to be in juvenile detention as non-Indigenous youth.
  • Aboriginal people are returned to prison at a higher rate than they are retained in either high school or university.
  • 35.9 per cent of the Indigenous population is under the age of 15 – the time for action is now.
  • 90 per cent of young Indigenous people that appear before the Children’s Court go on to appear before the adult criminal court. Young Indigenous offenders are repeat offenders; small crimes turn into big crimes and the whole community loses. We can change that.

Actions you can take:

  1. Make a submission to the Value of a Justice Reinvestment Approach to Criminal Justice in Australia. It is not everyday that politicians listen, but they are listening now.
  2. Share your knowledge; send us information you have about existing diversionary programs and projects that focus on education and employment that are working.
  3. Here is one example: White Lion
  4. Make some (useful) noise. Share this information with your friends and ask them to be part of the generation for change then hit social media using #Gen1 #justreinvest

There are huge disparities in employment, participation and economic outcomes for Indigenous people in Australia.

Criminal records are a major barrier to many Indigenous people finding work.

The Closing the Gap Clearinghouse identified that criminal history adds a layer of complexity to employment in addition to the socioeconomic disadvantage Indigenous ex-offenders experience.

Please join us in this important campaign.

Warren Mundine