The over-representation of Indigenous people in custody in Australia


Over 14 per cent of Australia's prison population are of Indigenous origin. Nationally, Aboriginal people are in prison at 13 times the rate of non-Aboriginal people. The degree of over-representation varies around the different jurisdictions with South Australia and Western Australia standing out. The Aboriginal community and others are understandably concerned about the lack of real progress in reducing the level of Aboriginal imprisonment and are beginning to look outside Australia for support.

Projections of the Indigenous prison population over the next decade or so which are forecast in this Trends and Issues paper are ominous. They can be reduced in part by reducing the levels of social and economic disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal people. There must also be renewed efforts by every jurisdiction in Australia to implement improvements in the ways the criminal justice system treats Indigenous people as recommended by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

If we do not make progress in the immediate future, attention on Australia in the year 2000 may not be focussed on the Olympics alone.