Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement

Minister’s Statement

Ms MIKAKOS (Minister for Youth Affairs) (09:51:31) — I rise to inform the house on how the Andrews Labor government is taking historic steps towards closing the gap and reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal young people in our youth justice system. While Victoria continues to have one of the lowest rates of Indigenous detention in the country, their over-representation remains unacceptably high. Recently I was proud to be a signatory to phase 4 of the Aboriginal justice agreement — Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja — with the Attorney-General, other ministers and 20 Aboriginal community-controlled organisations.

For the first time the agreement sets a milestone to reduce the average daily number of Aboriginal young people under justice supervision by 43 by 2023. In this year’s budget the government has committed $10.8 million for a range of initiatives to divert Aboriginal young people from a custodial sentence and to support and rehabilitate them. In a Victorian first the government will establish an Aboriginal youth justice task force to examine the cases of about 250 Aboriginal young people in our youth justice system over the next 18 months.

Taskforce 250 will be led by the independent commissioner for Aboriginal children and young people and will examine the current care of Aboriginal young people in our youth justice system and identify issues that impact on their development and cultural connectedness. New initiatives such as in-reach elder support as well as leadership and cultural development opportunities for Aboriginal young people will also be rolled out across youth justice custodial centres to support their rehabilitation.

Together with a $1.3 million Aboriginal youth justice strategy as part of the government’s response to the Armytage-Ogloff youth justice review, these initiatives will help meet the Aboriginal justice agreement milestone. After four years of cuts, cover-ups and pay-offs by the previous Liberal government, we are fixing their mess through an unprecedented $1.2 billion overhaul of our youth justice system, and we are also seeking to address the over-representation of Aboriginal young people.