Since we started reporting on the number of dual involved children and young people – that is, those who are in state care and those who have also been admitted to Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre – as part of our South Australian Dual Involved (SADI) project, we have identified that 42.8% of these young people are Aboriginal.
While these numbers are high, they also suggest the percentage of Aboriginal children and young people in detention, overall, is declining, in what appears to be a welcome, ongoing trend in South Australia. From 62.3% in 2019-19, the number decreased to 52.1% in 2019-20. This data is consistent with SA being on track to surpass the Closing the Gap target for youth justice by 2031. This is despite the worsening proportion of Aboriginal children in care, with the threat of SA not meeting the Closing the Gap target for child protection.
We have broken down the numbers for these dual involved young people, to highlight the good, and not so good, news for them.
Since February 2021:
- 21 of the 49 dual involved children and young people we have identified are Aboriginal
- Of the 21, eight identified themselves as female and 13 as male.
- Of the 21, some young people had up to 6 admissions, with the majority of the admissions as a result of remand for varying periods of time.
The good news…
- The number of dual involved children and young people who are Aboriginal is consistent with the trend that fewer Aboriginal children and young people, overall, are coming into detention.
- Only 5 of the 14 dual involved children and young people we recorded under the age of 14 years are Aboriginal. In this data, the Aboriginal dual involved children aged 10-13 years (inclusive) are not overrepresented compared to their counterparts who are not in care.
And the bad…
- Only one dual involved child or young person who is Aboriginal has been held under a detention order, following a conviction. All others have been held in police custody or on remand orders. Under domestic and international human rights law, detention of children should only occur as a last resort. Detention environments are particularly harmful for Aboriginal children and young people; they become further disconnected from family, community, land and culture, and more likely to be propelled towards the adult corrections system.
- Of the 21 dual involved Aboriginal children and young people, only 3 lived in family-based care at the time they were detained. This raises questions about the extent to which the other 18 Aboriginal children and young people were placed in accordance with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (ATSICPP) (which seeks to keep Aboriginal children and young people in care, connected to culture). We are aware of a small number of cases where dual involved children and young people are living with family and kin. However, it seems the majority of dual involved Aboriginal children and young people detained in Kurlana Tapa have experienced a range of disconnections – from kin, culture, community and country – as a result of removal from their family.
- Of the 9 Aboriginal children and young people identified as having a disability, 5 had an NDIS plan, and the other 4 had applications in train. However, with high numbers of children with undiagnosed disabilities in the youth justice system generally, we suspect that dual involved children and young people are also under-diagnosed so the rates of disability may be much higher.
Have you missed our other blog posts about dual involved children and young people? Catch up below.
- New project to explore growing numbers of dual involved young people
- Resourcing pressures leading young people to detention
If you would like to discuss any of the matters mentioned above, please do not hesitate to contact Conrad at firstname.lastname@example.org.