The St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn strongly supports the joint press release by ACTCOSS and Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services.

The press release detailed the appalling statistics on Aboriginal Youth Justice released by the Productivity Commission Wednesday.

“Sadly, these figures are the worst in many years,” said Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn CEO, Barnie van Wyk.

Overall the ACT has increased its rate of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Young People by 68% since 2014-15 while the national average has fallen by 25% during that time.

“The St Vincent de Paul Society is committed to tackling disadvantage and addressing systemic inequality. These figures illustrate the impact the flaws in the system are having on the very fabric of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in one of the wealthiest communities in the country,” said John Feint, President of the St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn.

In their 2020 election statement Vinnies called upon all parties to make real commitment to reforms to the justice system and aim to reduce the severe impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and in particular indigenous youth and young people.

The Government has been given a blueprint to start addressing these issues by the recommendations in the ‘Our Booris Our Way’ Inquiry handed to the government last year. 

The Inquiry made a broad range of recommendations. It aims to reduce the number of children coming into the justice and child protection systems. It also aims to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principles are properly adhered to, and that Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander had greater representation in decision making in the system.

In the lead up to the 2020 ACT election, Vinnies called on an incoming government to commit to implementing the recommendations in this report within its first year.

We reiterate this call. 

“These figures in our view, point to a crisis. Urgent action must be taken to deal with this issue. It has gone beyond reports and recommendations, action is needed now,” said Mr van Wyk.

22nd January 2021