I recently had a detailed discussion about the protection and support of Aboriginal young people in detention with Mick Gooda, the Royal Commissioner into the Child Protection and Youth Detention Systems of the Northern Territory.
The Northern Territory and Western Australia have the highest rates of imprisonment of Aboriginal children and young people in the country.
The detention of young people must be a last resort, but when it is required it is vital that there are very strong processes that support young people’s safety and welfare and rehabilitation.
Along with other Royal Commissioners, Mr Gooda is speaking to children who have had experiences in detention, a crucial step in creating a better system.
Last year my office consulted with 92 young people who had contact with the youth justice system – 72% of whom were Aboriginal.
Many of these young people spoke about their ambitions for a crime-free future, but noted a variety of barriers that they faced – such as family conflict and disengagement from education and employment.
I believe in order to maximise the success of our Youth Justice system, it is vital for us to take note of what young people tell us and to act on their suggestions.