They're frightening statistics but unfortunately they're not surprising - NSW Indigenous incarceration rates are up by 18 percent in the year to October.
By
Myles Morgan

4 Nov 2015 - 5:22 PM  UPDATED 4 Nov 2015 - 6:26 PM

TRANSCRIPT

Natalie Ahmat: They're frightening statistics but unfortunately they're not surprising.

New South Wales Indigenous incarceration rates are up by 18 percent in the year to October.

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In fact, the number of Indigenous people in New South Wales prisons has been increasing for the last few years.

There are now about 1000 more Indigenous people in the state's jails than in 2011.

Myles Morgan reports.

Myles Morgan: Across Australia, Indigenous people are over-represented in jails. But, the rate of incarceration for First Nations men and women is rising sharply in NSW.

The number of our mob in NSW prisons has risen by 18 percent in just one year. Of course, NSW isn't alone in these statistics but it is alarming.

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Last month, there were nearly 12,000 prisoners in New South Wales jails.

Just under three thousand or nearly a quarter, were Indigenous.

It was worse for our young people.

There were 289 juvenile offenders in NSW prisons in September and 150 were Indigenous.

Many of these offenders don't need to be in jail, but are usually held on remand for their next court date.

Kirstie Parker, Change the Record co-chair: When they're on remand, they don't have access to programs and services that would really get them into much better shape to ensure they don't get themselves back in contact with the criminal justice system. So it's really a revolving door.

"When they're on remand, they don't have access to services that would really get them into much better shape to ensure they don't get themselves back in contact with the criminal justice system"

Kirstie Parker says many Aboriginal prisoners in NSW are also suffering from mental or cognitive disabilities.

Kirstie Parker, Change the Record co-chair: So, not only are we really establising a real pipeline into prison for our people, we're seeing people who should really be being dealt with in a therapeutic setting rather than a criminal setting languishing in jails.

"We're seeing people who should really be being dealt with in a therapeutic setting rather than a criminal setting"

The Change the Record campaign says programs like community sentencing can reduce the number of INdigenous people in jails.

That's certainly part of the answer but we really need to stop our people coming into contact with the criminal justice system in the first place. This is really about prevention and diversion.

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