• The changes will most likely affect Aboriginal communities living in the Northern Territory due to the large overrepresentation of Indigenous youth in detention (AAP)Source: AAP
New measures include 'tougher than ever consequences for breach of bail', expanded options to apply Electronic Monitoring and legislative and non-legislative processes to target repeat offenders.
By
Bernadette Clarke

23 Mar 2021 - 5:30 PM  UPDATED 23 Mar 2021 - 5:30 PM

A range of new police powers targeted at young people to 'cut crime' have been announced by the Northern Territory Labor Government.

In a media statement the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Michael Gunner and Minister for Police, Fire and Emergencies, Nicole Manison revealed the plan.

New measures include 'tougher than ever consequences for breach of bail', expanded options to apply Electronic Monitoring and legislative and non-legislative processes to target repeat offenders.

The changes will most likely affect Aboriginal communities living in the Northern Territory due to the large overrepresentation of Indigenous youth in detention compared to non-Indigenous people.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), young Indigenous Australians aged 10–17 were 21 times more likely than young non-Indigenous Australians to be in detention (on an average night in the June quarter of 2019). 

Cheryl Axleby, a Narungga woman and co-chair of Change the Record says "it feels like we keep going in backward steps, particularly in the Northern Territory."

"When we're looking at the issue about bail, it goes against the context of the [Northern Territory] Royal Commission findings,"

"(Against) the commitment by the NT government that they were going to (implement) the recommendations that would be investing and supporting our children outside of the criminal justice system."

"Already our children and our youth are already holding the highest percentage of kids in custody on remand, where children are yet to be proven guilty."

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"Time and time again all we keep getting is police getting more powers which is not the answer, for true reconciliation, for true looking at how we can break the cycle of our children entering the justice system, then there has to be a great investment," Ms Axleby told NITV News.

The Government will allocate $5 million for additional new youth remand infrastructure in the Northern Territory.

Ms Axleby says there are far better uses for the money.

"This five million dollars could have been better spent in implementing the Royal Commission recommendations particularly around youth diversion and investing in Aboriginal communities." 

Chief Minister, Michael Gunner, said in the statement that the community's "safety comes first."

“No quick fixes, no silver bullets just hard constant grind to break the cycle of crime and keep you safe.

“Less bail, more consequences for offenders and more visibility of youth on bail makes the work of police easier and the community safer.”

The plan will mean that if a young person commits a serious breach while on bail such as re-offending or failing to attend court,  then their bail will be automatically revoked and they will be taken into custody.

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In addition, the list of prescribed offences will be expanded so the Bail Act will be amended so there is no presumption of bail given to offences such as unlawful entry, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, assault or other serious offences. 

Police will also be given more powers to immediately place a monitoring device on a young person who is alleged to have committed a crime.

The new measures will be developed immediately and ready for Parliament in May sittings.