Sea of hands at Barangaroo, Sydney, July 2017.

Amnesty: NSW Opposition sets positive youth justice benchmark with policy announcement

The New South Wales Opposition today announced that a Labor Government will, if elected, appoint an Aboriginal Affairs Advocate for Children and Young People, adopt Justice Reinvestment principles and fund three new pilot programs.

In response, Joel Clark, Amnesty International Australia Advocacy Adviser, said:

“Justice reinvestment and the appointment of an Aboriginal Affairs Advocate for Children and Young People are commitments that every state and territory government and opposition should be making if they are serious about ending the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in the justice system.

“We know justice reinvestment works. In Bourke, the Maranguka Justice Reinvestment initiative has led to a 38% reduction in charges across the top five juvenile offence categories, and a 23% reduction in police-recorded incidents of domestic violence. An expansion of this policy into other communities that need it is incredibly important and welcome.

“Other states and territories are all at different stages when it comes to justice reinvestment. A strong, consistent approach needs to be taken so we can replicate the benefits that Bourke has experienced, reaching the people that need it – particularly Indigenous children – right around the country.

“In addition, an Aboriginal Affairs Advocate for Children and Young People is a voice that is needed to ensure that someone in government has their back. If we are going to continue to tolerate the shocking fact that nationally Indigenous children are 26 times more likely to end up behind their bars than their non-Indigenous peers, we need someone looking out for them in government.

“Amnesty calls on every state and territory government to meet the benchmark that these announcements have set, and again urges the Federal Government to show national leadership when it comes to youth justice”.