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They represent only 3% of the total population, yet more than 28% of Australia’s prison population are Aboriginal. Statistics show that a staggering 60% of Indigenous Australians aged between 19 to 20 reoffend and until they end up in prison.
How can we reduce these disproportionate incarceration rates?
Here are a few examples of some simple ways to stop Aboriginal youths from reoffending and to encourage growth and self-development.
To put it simply: it is investment. You cannot expect change unless there are tools in place and help provided to make and encourage change. Firstly social support such as counselling, education, mental health healing and rehabilitation programs would help endlessly. Do people reoffend if they see light at the end of a dark tunnel? Perhaps positivity and a little guidance would work for some reoffenders.
In many cultures, it has been proven that social clubs and entertainment give people excitement and discipline. Clubs such as boxing, planting trees and youth clubs have helped people from lower social-economic backgrounds tremendously. People want and need to be appreciated and to feel like there is help out there for them
Are these youths being adequately represented? Are they being represented at all? Are they getting a fair trial? If these youths feel that there is no help for them and believe that they have no help and support, perhaps they feel like it is not worth the fight, and in turn may be remanded for extended periods of time before matters are withdrawn for lack of evidence.
Improve education access
Limited educational opportunities have found that young Aboriginal people are more likely to reoffend. And a a long-term study (International Youth Development Study) has also found that young people who were excluded from education facilities were more likely to develop anti-social behaviours and go on to offend, which is likely to lead to incarceration.
Prison release after care
It is known that predictable patterns and structures guide prisoners and help them stay sane in prisons. However, when these youths are released, these patterns disappear and their structure and discipline is severed. This is the time they need support the most. Adapting to outside society is difficult after experiencing the patterns of inside society.
Alcohol related issues, drug overdose, crime and sadly even suicide, are the ramifications of our society not helping these youths. Transition needs to be addressed and a sense of community, love and support needs to be prevalent.
It’s a big issue, and there are no quick solutions, but we can all do our bit, and the starting place may be to put the reflex to judge aside for a moment and reflect on the struggle that those less fortunate have to endure day in day our 24/7.