Issued: Friday, 14 November 2014
NSW Attorney General Brad Hazzard yesterday announced the Parramatta Children’s Court is trialling a dedicated court for young Aboriginal offenders to combat the cycle of crime and help turn young lives around.
Mr Hazzard said the Youth Koori Court will provide greater Aboriginal involvement in the court process ensuring it’s culturally relevant, addresses reoffending behaviour and reduces the number of young people being sentenced to a period of detention.
“It’s a sad fact that Aboriginal people are over represented in the criminal justice system which is why the Baird Liberal & Nationals Government intend to put even more energy into measures to try to break the cycle of crime,” Mr Hazzard said.
“It’s frustrating and concerning that by the age of 23, more than three quarters of the NSW Aboriginal population has had a run in with the justice system – they may have been cautioned by police, referred to a Youth Justice Conference or convicted of an offence.
“For some years we have had Circle Sentencing for adults. Now it’s time to see what we can do to turnaround criminal behaviour in young people as early as possible – before it becomes a destructive way of life.”
In Victoria, the Children’s Koori Court has been operating since 2005 and has helped hundreds of Aboriginal youth get their lives back on track.
Mr Hazzard said the Koori Court model also takes the victim into account.
“Elders will play an important role in getting young offenders to see their actions through their victim’s eyes,” he said.
“The Children’s Court has found many victims are keen for a young offender to be rehabilitated – hopefully the same will be seen in this dedicated Youth Koori Court.”
“By the time the case comes to sentence, it is hoped the young person will demonstrate to both the court and the victim genuine remorse and prove they are taking steps to change their lives.”
Member for Parramatta Geoff Lee said “I am pleased that Parramatta has been chosen as the first location to trial the Koori Youth Court and look forward to seeing the outcomes.”
The twelve month trial will start in January 2015. If successful the Koori Youth Court could be introduced at other locations around the state.