Koorie Youth Council (KYC) welcomes Wirkara Kulpa, meaning ‘alongside, next to talking/speaking’ in Barkindji/Paakantyi, the first Aboriginal youth justice strategy in Victoria and for the nation.
The strategy, written by and for Aboriginal young people, was led by the Department of Justice and Community Safety, Aboriginal Youth Justice team in partnership with the Aboriginal Justice Caucus and Aboriginal Youth Justice Strategy Steering Committee. KYC’s ‘Ngaga-dji: hear me’ report released in 2018 was used as one of the foundational documents underpinning the strategy, calling on the Victorian Government to actively take steps towards change in the youth justice system and to truly hear the voices of Aboriginal children and young people.
“This strategy is the result of an incredible amount of collective work from all involved. I recognise the significant steps that this strategy represents in turning the tide of over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people in the youth justice system, but we must not rely on this strategy alone. The strategy presents the framework, but the action is in the responsibility of us all,” Indi Clarke, Executive Officer, Koorie Youth Council.
The strategy includes 56 recommendations out of 75 that were addressed in the Commission for Children and Young People’s ‘Our youth, our way: Inquiry into the over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people in the Victorian youth justice system.’
The Victorian Government response to the ‘Our youth, our way’ inquiry was also released today. It outlines their commitment to Aboriginal self-determination, including supporting KYC to engage with Aboriginal children and young people in the youth justice system and seek their input on design and delivery of services, however the response fails to include all recommendations included in the inquiry and highlight the urgent need to Raise the Age.
“Raising the Age of criminal responsibility was a key recommendation in Ngaga-dji and was a key finding in the ‘Our youth, our way’ report. Today is a step forward in listening and acting on their calls, however, to truly listen and for true justice, Raising the Age is imperative. When children and young people are forced into the quicksand of the youth justice system at such a young age, they suffer immense harm to their health, wellbeing and future.”
Today marks another significant step towards justice for Aboriginal children and young people and we call on the Victorian Government and opposition to continue to walk with the leadership of Aboriginal communities and our social services sector.
“It takes a community to raise a child and this strategy helps paint the picture to practice this. It starts with ensuring our systems and supports empower our children, young people and families to have a voice, to recognise Aboriginal cultural values and connection and ensure that our systems value the strengths of Aboriginal children and young people, and this strategy will help us achieve this,” Indi Clarke, Executive Officer, Koorie Youth Council.
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Koorie Youth Council