Prime Minister needs to heed growing calls for national action to transform youth justice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

9 February 2018


The Prime Minister needs to commit to a national approach to youth justice, following COAG today affirming the importance of the Royal Commission into Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory, a coalition led by peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, and supported by leading community and human rights organisations, has urged.

“The Prime Minister acknowledged the national crisis in youth justice and child protection when he said that ‘many of the recommendations have wider implications for all jurisdictions’ after the Royal Commission’s report was handed down. Today all the States and Territories acknowledged the same at COAG, and the Federal ALP has committed to a national response,” said ­­­­Cheryl ­Axleby, Co-Chair of Change the Record.

“The Royal Commission called for a totally new approach to youth justice and child protection because the current system is broken. COAG has agreed. The justice system is destroying the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and leaving them more damaged. We need change now,” said Antoinette Braybrook, Co-Chair of Change the Record.

“Yesterday’s response to the Royal Commission by the Prime Minister was deeply inadequate and disappointing. The Prime Minister needs to stop dragging his heels and revise the response through COAG, and build on the commitments that State and Territory governments have made,” said Ms Axleby. “The Royal Commission recommended a totally new approach to youth justice. Now is the time for the Government to commit to all the recommendations with a bi-partisan National Plan of Action to overhaul youth justice around the country,” she said.

“The failings and appalling abuse documented by the Royal Commission are happening in every State and Territory,” said Ms Braybrook. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders have outlined the solution: we need action at the national level to make a real change for our kids,” she said.

“Next week we mark the 10 year anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generation, and most States and Territories are reviewing their youth justice and child protection systems. This is the perfect time for the Federal Government to work with other governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to make real change for vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The best way to address the national implications would be through setting justice targets and a national action plan under Closing the Gap,” said Ms Braybrook.

Change the Record has produced a National Plan of Action calling on the Federal Government to:

1.Support children, families and communities to stay strong and together

2.Raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14

3.Get children who are not sentenced out of prison

4.Adequately fund Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled legal and other support services

5.End abusive practices in prisons

6.Set targets to end the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in prison

7.Improve collection and use of data

8.Work through COAG to reform State and Territory laws that breach children’s rights

Free to be Kids – National Plan of Action is available here: https://changetherecord.org.au/blog/news/a-plan-to-transform-the-justice-system-for-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-children