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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Outcome 11: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are not overrepresented in the criminal justice system

Target 11: By 2031, reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander young people (10–17 years) in detention by at least 30 per cent.

Minister responsible

Attorney-General, Minister for Indigenous Australians

Productivity Commission national progress against the target

Status Baseline (2018–19) Latest (2020–21) Assessment date
On track 31.9 per 10,000 23.2 per 10,000 June 2022

The path forward

The Commonwealth recognises that states and territories hold the levers to make direct changes to the systems and policies that disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. Consistent with Priority Reform Two, the Commonwealth’s key role is to work with First Nations peoples and state and territory governments to drive change, including through supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations and communities to identify and implement solutions. This is complemented by the Commonwealth’s role in funding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled legal services providers, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS) and Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLS), and diversionary and early intervention programs through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS).

Noting the complex socio-economic drivers that increases the risk for young people’s contact with the criminal justice system, the Commonwealth will work closely across governments and across sectors to align our approaches.

Priority actions

Actions listed under Outcome 10 also apply to Outcome 11. Please refer to Outcome 10 for actions supporting the achievement of Outcome 11, in addition to those listed below.

Increasing the minimum age of criminal responsibility

Through the Standing Council of Attorneys-General, the Commonwealth will work with states and territories to continue to develop a proposal to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility, paying particular attention to eliminating the overrepresentation of First Nations children in the criminal justice system.

Youth support and diversion

Through the IAS, the Commonwealth is administering funding for youth diversion and support activities (approximately $12 million in 2022–23), which complement efforts by states and territories to improve justice and community safety outcomes. Activities are targeted at First Nations young people aged 10–24 years who are in contact, or at risk of coming into contact, with the justice system and support wellbeing and positive behaviour including diversionary activities, intensive case management and wrap-around supports and referrals.

For additional actions regarding First Nations Justice reform, refer to the actions outlined in Outcome 10.

Summary of new actions

Action Minister Responsible Delivery Timeframe
Standing Council of Attorneys-General consideration of the minimum age of criminal responsibility Aligns with Outcome 10 Attorney-General Ongoing

*A full appendix of new and existing measures being undertaken by the Commonwealth to support Closing the Gap efforts is on the NIAA website, at Closing the Gap implementation measures.