Reconciliation Australia calls on state and federal governments to take a justice reinvestment approach to urgently needed reforms, following the release of the Royal Commission's final report on youth detention and child protection in the Northern Territory.
The report, released today, outlines a range of measures necessary to correct the disturbing flaws in the Northern Territory's child protection and youth detention systems.
Reconciliation Australia welcomes the recommendations and emphasises the importance of a collaborative, community-led approach to justice reinvestment to tackle the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – including youth – in the criminal justice system.
Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine said that a shift in policy and spending away from incarceration and towards prevention and early intervention was needed to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in youth detention.
"Evidence shows that localised early intervention, prevention and diversionary solutions developed in partnership with communities can reduce crime, build local capacity and strengthen local communities," Ms Mundine said.
"There is mounting evidence that a community-driven, collaborative approach to justice reinvestment can help to tackle problems around offending and incarceration, while creating alternative pathways and brighter futures for young people."
Ms Mundine noted that a ReachTEL poll commissioned by Amnesty International and released today indicated that there was broad support among the Australian population for Indigenous-led solutions.
"The poll revealed that two thirds of Australians also believe the government should fund more prevention and rehabilitation programs run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children."
Ms Mundine said that while the commission's inquiry related specifically to the Northern Territory, there is ample evidence that reforms are urgently needed across juvenile justice systems Australia-wide.
"As the commission's interim report noted earlier this year, there have been up to 50 earlier reports and inquiries on the issues covered by the Commission's Terms of Reference – yet the situation of children and young people in the child protection and youth detention systems has continued to deteriorate," she said.
"We need to break these cycles by involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the development of a comprehensive, preventative and long-term approach to addressing the issues."