• Youth justice supervision includes community-based supervision and detention. (Flickr)Source: Flickr
First Nations kids are being detained at 23 times the rate of non-Indigenous young people but Change the Record campaigners say this should not come as a surprise.
Keira Jenkins

24 Jan 2020 - 9:27 AM  UPDATED 24 Jan 2020 - 9:27 AM

A new report from the Productivity Commission has rervealed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are being detained at 23 times the rate of non-Indigenous youth.

The report said that during 2018/19 the average daily detention rate for Indigenous kids between the age of 10 and 17 was more than 30 per 10,000, compared to 1.4 per 10,000 for non-Indigenous young people in the same age group.

Change the Record's Ashlee Kearney said we should not be surprised by these findings.

"We have a justice system in this country that isn't just," she told NITV News.

"Change the Record is out there trying to address these issues and we'll keep doing what we have to do until things turn around."

The report was released just days before January 26, a time that is already difficult for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.

Ms Kearney said it's never going to be a good time to hear these alarming statistics, but it is important we start having conversations about the overrepresentation of Indigenous young people in the justice system.

"with alarming rates like this that are already being produced in this report, is there ever going to be a good time," she said.

"I know that January 26 is a difficult time for a lot of people in this country but these rates, we do have to address them.

"I guess it's just showing that we need to come together as a country and change the record."

But Ms Kearney said there is there is more that needs to be done on all levels to address the inequality.

"I think the best way to address these issues and these statistics is through systemic change," she said.

"We need to be having conversations at all levels but it's really important to be speaking to these key decision-makers who can influence legislation and policy.

"We also need to be looking at early intervention measures like diversion and justice re-investment.

"We must also definitely look at raising the age of criminal responsibility."

The federal government spent more than $916 million on the youth justice sector in 2018/19, with the majority of money going towards detention-based supervision costs.

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 Ms Kearney said more of this funding should be going to grassroots organisations.

"We need to make sure these community-led organisations and programs are well-resourced to do the jobs they need to be doing," she said.

"It's so hard for them to be servicing these communities and especially these young people when they're operating on the smell of an oily rag.

"Governments need to be looking at where they're investing, and what focus and what they really want to achieve."

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