Australia fails to protect Indigenous children from violence

According to a historical report, failures in child protection, youth justice, and other support systems affect Queensland’s First Nations children who are victims of domestic and familial violence and lead them to engage in risky and criminal behaviour.

The report, which was published at a time when discussion of youth crime in Queensland was at an all-time high, offers new information on unsafe home environments and how a lack of safe places to flee domestic violence contribute to the circumstances under which young people end up involved with the legal system.

These worries, which the study does not address, are the leading cause for fear regarding the possible effects of the state government’s decision last week to prosecute juveniles with crimes for disobeying bail conditions. Advocates claim that many of these kids are forced to decide between following court-imposed rules and staying safe.

A public hearing was held on Monday. Representatives from the state’s Department of Justice and Attorney-General explained that the proposed changes to the bail regulations would make it illegal for kids to break curfew or housing rules.

The National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety in Australia, the Australian Catholic University, and Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP) collaborated on the report. You can’t pour from an empty cup. First Nations teams in eight rural and regional Queensland areas oversaw the research.

It was shown that the current systems, which are frequently disciplinary, cause additional trauma and injury for children and young people, having detrimental long-term effects.

The report stated that a lack of secure places for children and young people to escape domestic and family violence (DFV) and locations where they can find safe role models and a feeling of belonging was also seen to encourage risk-taking and criminal behaviour.

The significant number of youngsters who [according to a community worker] “start to take crooked roads… look for the wrong crowd” and enter juvenile court due to this dearth of safe places to go when DFV flares up at home is having lasting impacts, in particular.

This is made worse by the scarcity of community-based early intervention and healing supports for kids and teenagers with DFV.

According to a member of the neighbourhood, youngsters commit crimes “because of the unsafe environment at home.”

They go into the community and use that as an outburst, you know, draw on things, or you indulge in crime generally because they feel unwelcome or neglected.

The report expressed worry over the need for a prevention-focused strategy by support providers.

A community researcher questioned the methodology used by several initiatives for child safety and juvenile justice.

“From what I’ve seen… in remote communities, it’s not that they recognize the issue or try to resolve it,” she said. “They think they know what they’re doing for our kids, but they don’t have any healing component, and they aren’t operated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. If anything, they’ve ignored it and left it alone. We put it in the taboo box because it is too difficult.

A new “children-centred” framework should be implemented, according to QATSICPP CEO Garth Morgan, with a focus on First Nations-led strategies.

A youngster who violates the assigned curfews outlined in their bail terms may face charges and a year in detention, according to Adele Bogard, the acting director of strategic strategy at the attorney general’s office, during a briefing on the proposed amendments to youth justice legislation on Monday.

If the bill succeeds, “the offence under section 29 of the bail statute… which today applies to children, applies to a breach of bail condition not committing a future offence [while on release],” added Bogard.

“Therefore, that would apply to a violation of a residential condition or a curfew.”

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