Custody figures an international embarrassment

Joanna Vaughan | Adelaide Advertiser | 4th November, 2009

THE FULL REPORT - Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Young indigenous Australians are 16 times more likely to be held under supervision than non-indigenous children, a study says.

Juvenile Justice in Australia 2007-08, released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, says Aboriginal children aged 10 to 17 were 29 times as likely to be in detention and almost 15 times more likely to be under community-based supervision every day.

"Although only about 5 per cent of young Australians are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, 40 per cent of those under supervision on an average day were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders," the report says.

Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement chief executive Neil Gillespie said this was an international embarrassment.

"This is a result of a number of things and one is the over policing of Aboriginal people," he said.

"Secondly and more importantly, there is the social disadvantage of Aboriginal people, and thirdly we have had all of these reports and nothing has been done.

"Governments have continually failed Aboriginal people since 1788."

The report found the number of young Australians locked up in an average day rose by 17 per cent from 540 in 2004-05 to 630 in 2007-08.

Most of the 4084 young people under community-based supervision were male and more than half of those in detention were unsentenced.

Acting state Attorney-General Paul Holloway said the Government had identified the issues of youth offending and in particular, offending by Aboriginal youths.

"That is why we accepted all the recommendations of Monsignor (David) Cappo's "To Break The Cycle" report and last year invested $11.5 million over four years to tackle the issue," he said.

"This $11.5 million investment takes direct action on Monsignor Cappo's recommendations.

"It will help address gaps and provides top-to-bottom strategies to reduce youth offending."

Boy, 12, to fight stolen Freddo charges

Fahah farauque and Fran Rimrod | www.watoday.com.au | November 15, 2009

Freddo Frog ... the chocolate at the centre of the allegationsA boy has appeared in the Northam court over the theft of a 70-cent Freddo Frog.

A 12-year-old boy who faced court today over a stolen Freddo frog chocolate, which saw him locked up by police, will fight the charges.

Police claim he was found with the 70-cent chocolate frog, allegedly shoplifted by the child's friend from a Coles supermarket in the Wheatbelt town.

The boy, who has no prior convictions, also faces a second charge involving the receipt of a novelty sign from another store. The sign, which was also allegedly given to the boy by his friend, read: "Do not enter, genius at work."

In court today, the boy's lawyer, Peter Collins, said he would object to the original police interview with the boy - which was recorded - being used in court.

The boy was granted bail by Magistrate Jacqueline Musk and will appear in court again on February 22 when a trial date will be set.

Mr Collins, chief lawyer of the Aboriginal Legal Service in WA, had previously lobbied WA police for the charges to be withdrawn, but authorities had failed to respond to his request, he said.

"It's scandalous that a 12-year-old child should be subject to prosecution for a case of this type," he told The Age.

Wheatbelt police district acting Superintendent Peter Halliday said outside the court that the boy's arrest and charging was justified and that he had previously come to the notice of police without being charged.

He said charges against juveniles as young as 12 were only laid as a last resort.

"It's not about the value, it's about stopping children from offending," he said.

Mr Collins said that when the boy last month missed a court date due to a family misunderstanding, police had apprehended him about 8am on a school day and taken him into custody. The boy was then imprisoned for several hours in the holding cell at the police station.

"The conditions in those cells are appalling, and completely ill-equipped to hold young children," Mr Collins said.

He felt the boy could have been dealt with by way of caution, or referral to the juvenile justice team.

The case highlights the continuing overrepresentation of indigenous youth in juvenile justice systems across every state and territory.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youths aged 10 to 17 were nearly 30 times as likely to be in detention on an average day than other children nationally, according to data released this month by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. In WA, the figure is 45 times.

Chris Cunneen, a board member of the Australian Indigenous Law Reporter, said WA's juvenile justice system was bedevilled by high ratios of indigenous youth detention as well a high number of all youths going through the court system.

Leading children's rights campaigner John Fogarty, a retired Family Court judge, said: "If this was a non-indigenous child, the most he would probably get in Victoria and most other jurisdictions, would be the mildest of warnings by the local sergeant."

A WA police spokesman said police had spoken to the boy before and it was appropriate the court should now decide what should happen next.

Original source: The Age


Prisoner transport contract sparks 'outrage'

www.abc.net.au | November 6th, 2009

Mr Ward died while being transported from Laverton to Kalgoorlie

The Deaths in Custody Watch Committee says it is outraged that the contract of a prisoner transport company which contributed to the death of an Aboriginal elder will not be terminated.

Mr Ward died from heatstroke last year after he was transported from Laverton to Kalgoorlie in a prison van.

The Coroner found The Department of Corrective Services, the company G4S and the two prison van drivers all contributed to his death.

The Department of Corrective Services says the company's contract can not be terminated early unless there are two or more separate deaths in custody.

Liz Carboni from the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee told the ABC's morning program the State Government should amend the legislation to allow the contract to be terminated immediately.

"One death that is due to the negligence of a service provider should have severe penalties and should be grounds to terminate a contract," she said.

"We would like to see parliament to debate this issue."


Race a key to custody figures

Article from: Font size:DecreaseIncreaseEmail article:EmailPrint article:PrintSubmit comment:Submit comment
Joanna Vaughan | www.news.com.au Adelaide Advertiser | November 4th, 2009
Young indigenous Australians are 16 times more likely to be held under supervision than non-indigenous children, a study says.

Juvenile Justice in Australia 2007-08, released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, says Aboriginal children aged 10 to 17 were 29 times as likely to be in detention and almost 15 times more likely to be under community-based supervision every day.

"Although only about 5 per cent of young Australians are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, 40 per cent of those under supervision on an average day were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders," the report says.

Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement chief executive Neil Gillespie said this was an international embarrassment.

"This is a result of a number of things and one is the over policing of Aboriginal people," he said.

"Secondly and more importantly, there is the social disadvantage of Aboriginal people, and thirdly we have had all of these reports and nothing has been done.

"Governments have continually failed Aboriginal people since 1788."

The report found the number of young Australians locked up in an average day rose by 17 per cent from 540 in 2004-05 to 630 in 2007-08.

Most of the 4084 young people under community-based supervision were male and more than half of those in detention were unsentenced.

Acting state Attorney-General Paul Holloway said the Government had identified the issues of youth offending and in particular, offending by Aboriginal youths.

"That is why we accepted all the recommendations of Monsignor (David) Cappo's "To Break The Cycle" report and last year invested $11.5 million over four years to tackle the issue," he said.

"This $11.5 million investment takes direct action on Monsignor Cappo's recommendations.

"It will help address gaps and provides top-to-bottom strategies to reduce youth offending."