|JESUIT CENTRE HIGHLIGHTS HIGH RATE OF ABORIGINAL IMPRISONMENT|
A statement from the Ignatius social research centre in Melbourne says the diversionary programs to keep young offenders out of jail in the Northern Territory should not distract from the unjust and disproportionate rate of imprisonment of Aboriginal young offenders elsewhere.
The Centre's research, conducted by Dr Tony Vinson, reveals that the NT actually has the lowest rate of detention of Indigenous youth, and the lowest ratio of Indigenous to non-Indigenous imprisoned youth of any state or territory in the country.
"When national statistics were first collected in 1993, an Indigenous juvenile between 10-17 years of age, was approximately 13 times more likely to be in detention in Australia than a non-Indigenous juvenile. This ratio steadily climbed until by September, 1997, there was a 22 fold difference in detention rates. This disparity has declined a little since that peak, the average ratio for the three quarters for which information is available in 1999 being 16.6," the statement says.
Surprisingly, the NT has both the lowest rate of Aboriginal youth imprisonment and the smallest ratio between the rates for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal young people (2.5).
The statement continued: "Now that many of our politicians and community leaders have bestirred themselves over the just cause of opposing mandatory sentencing in the Northern Territory, it is time they took a look in their own backyards and did something about the unconscionable rate of imprisonment of Aboriginal children and youths throughout the rest of Australia."