Aborigine jail rate a 'tragedy'

2011-06-21 10:59

Sydney - Aborigines account for one quarter of Australia's prisoners, despite representing just 2.5% of the population, a report found on Tuesday, describing the figures as a "national tragedy".

The "Doing Time" report, prepared by a government committee on Aboriginal affairs, said entrenched social and economic disadvantages meant younger generations were following their forebears into the criminal justice system.

Young Aborigines were 28 times more likely to be jailed than non-Aborigines, the report found, a "shameful state of affairs" that saw them accounting for 59% of the juvenile prison population.

It had been 20 years since a landmark inquiry into Aboriginal prison deaths that aimed to reduce jail rates, "yet the incarceration rate of indigenous Australians... is worse now than at any other time since", it added.

"Although indigenous Australians make up only approximately 2.5% of the population, 25% of prisoners in Australia are indigenous," the report said.

"This is a national tragedy, and questions must be raised as to why the situation has worsened so dramatically after the sweeping reforms recommended by the Royal Commission."

The number of Aboriginal men in custody had spiked 55% in the past 10 years, while there were 47% more indigenous women in prison - a "disturbing" trend for community and family stability, the report said.

Intergenerational dysfunction

Total imprisonment rates for Aborigines grew 66% from 2000 levels, with 1 891 in every 100 000 indigenous people now behind bars.

"Intergenerational dysfunction" meant many young Aborigines were exposed to domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, poor housing, health and school attendance and a lack of job skills and employment opportunities.

"This situation is a national disgrace," it said, adding that government at all levels had "failed to adequately address this problem".

The committee urged "rapid and effective" action, including a review of alternatives to detention for Aboriginal youth and better programmes both inside prisons and post-release, aimed at successful reintegration into the community.

It called for quotas or dedicated seats in the nation's parliament for Aborigines and said greater engagement with and empowerment of indigenous leaders was key to reversing disadvantage.

Flying the Aboriginal flag in schools and using local indigenous languages to name school sports teams and classrooms were also among the committee's recommendations to boost pride in, and respect for, the nation's first people.

Australia's original inhabitants, the country's most impoverished minority, are believed to have numbered around one million at the time of white settlement, but there are now just 470 000 in a nation of 22 million.

  • Goofster - 2011-06-21 11:34

    Why doesn't the Australian government give the land back to them?

      customdesign - 2011-06-21 15:20

      Dont be an idiot- where are you going to put the rest of the 22 million Ozzies who are running a solid country?

      DoublySalmon - 2011-06-21 21:44

      Maybe they should just get with the times and become free working Australians rather than criminal Aborigines in jail.

  • Foreigner - 2011-06-21 12:18

    From a population of 1 million down to 470 000! Whichever way you look at it that's a disturbing statistic! Medical technology at the advent of white settlement was certainly not what it is today. Please explain that decline! Wow! Could Australian aborigines become extinct? Its conceivable?

      OzzyInSA - 2011-06-21 15:56

      There are statistics, damn statistics and lies. In the census in 2006, 517,200 defined themselves as "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander". However, when the government under Hawke or Keating (can't remember which one) defined an "aborigine" for the purpose of receiving government grants as being 1/16th blood the aborigine population shot up to well over a million. It is worth noting that when the first settlers arrived there was no known count of how many aborigines were in Australia at the time. Estimates range between 300,000 and 750,000. So, I would like to know where the journo got his 1 million from.

      nick - 2011-06-22 08:27

      extinct no way to many white fellows marrying black women and visa versa and the Govt deems each and every child as an aboriginal black or white spouse it doesn"t matter so our race stays what about yours the specialist say that the white race is to become a minority within 50years

      nick - 2011-06-22 08:38

      do your research mate all blacks where massacared until some sypathisers put a stop to it

  • meelo - 2011-06-21 18:40

    Do any of yous know how the white man came to there land ? Criminals from England deported to Aus to live there. And eventually wiping a big chunk of the population out. The same way America was founded.White nations are imperialist and still are,hence they in Afgan, Irag and soon Libya and soon Iran, flip a coin whos next

      DoublySalmon - 2011-06-21 21:42

      boohoo. imperialist. Do you even know what imperialist means? Why don't you go live in Swaziland, no white intervention there. Its a real hellhole. Just go look North in Africa, bigger hell hole and almost no white people who can bother you. Why do you think millions of Africans are risking their lives to escape Africa to live in Europe? They want to live under Western governance rather than African chiefs who consume but nothing else.

  • nick - 2011-06-22 08:22

    Half those young fellows in jail are there because the police clean up their books with them like who did that robbery doesn"t matter go pick up a black and charge him poor bugger has no idea of the law and when they front the judge rattles of long words and the young black man just nods his head and of to the prison he goes

  • Tuko - 2011-06-28 20:38

    What's new. White people have disturbed and messed the whole world. We used to be fine without them. We were very civilised and doing things in a more sustainable manner, then they came with their crap industrialisation that has led to greed and anarchy in the world.

  • cgtours - 2011-06-28 20:57

    Tuko !!! Thank God tonight - you did not get the Australians here - otherwise TUKU you woould not be here. At Least you got Christians who did not Murder !- Your Ancestors got have been wiped out by the hundreds of thousands !! Lucky you!! The American Red Indians would also much have preferred us. and then TUKU you and your ancestors were never never even in the Western Cape- they did not even know it existed- si speak for YOURHeritage not mine. When my Ancestors arrived, they were not met by a GUN SALUTE your great great great grandfather Navy and taken to his Chateau for lunch and entertained on Mozart etc.I am sure your great great great granny did niot serve onbone china and silver cutlery and entertained everyb ody afterwards on the Pianola! or did they? Let us know. also by the way , do YOU know who your great great Ancestors were? Where is your family tree and your Ancestral home that you inherited from your Ancestors? Please invite us?

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