Fewer Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system



Fewer Aboriginal people enter the criminal justice system



Fewer young people become involved with the criminal justice system


An individual’s first contact with the criminal justice system is also their last


The underlying causes of offending for young people are complex. Offending behaviours often stem from a history or trauma, abuse, neglect, involvement with the child protection system, disengagement from education and training, drug and alcohol misuse and mental health issues. The risk of involvement in the criminal justice system is exacerbated when parental incarceration or other circumstances such as family violence results in children entering the child protection system, and in particular out of home care. These children often find themselves in police custody for relatively minor behavioural infractions that occur while in care, and are at greater risk of losing contact with their parents, offending and becoming involved in the juvenile justice system themselves[i]. These risks are particularly significant for Aboriginal children, whose first interaction with the justice system may be as victims of violence or abuse. This concerning and intergenerational cycle of disadvantage and trauma is one of the most compelling reasons for prevention and early intervention for Aboriginal children and young people.

Aboriginal young people currently experience a rapid trajectory into the youth justice system due to a lack of effective and appropriate diversionary options. Magistrates are often willing to divert young people whose offending is of a lower scale but have limited options for ongoing community-based diversion programs to refer them to.  Community-based youth diversion programs can provide alternatives to youth justice supervision at lower cost, however their real value is in the benefits that accrue from keeping children and young people out of the criminal justice system in the long-term. Where community-based Koori youth justice programs are available, increasing numbers of Aboriginal young people are accessing them.




Icon indicating this strategy is early intervention and prevention.

Meet the particular needs of vulnerable children and young people in out of home care due to family violence and support them to access the services they need to avoid future involvement with the criminal justice system.


Icon indicating this strategy is diversion.

Provide tailored therapeutic responses, where appropriate, when young people do come in contact with the criminal justice system. Incarceration should only be used as an absolute last resort.


Icon indicating this strategy is diversion.

Identify and implement actions to reduce the amount of time children and young people spend in police stations and cells.


Icon indicating this strategy is diversion.

Identify and develop options for safe spaces so that children and young people are not at further risk, or unduly associated with sentenced offenders and/or adults, if remand is required.


Existing initiatives

  • Koori Early School Leavers Program.
  • Community Based Koori Youth Justice Workers support young Aboriginal people at risk of offending, as well as those on community-based and custodial orders.
  • Koori Youth Cautioning Projects.
  • Koori Women’s and Adult Pre-Charge Diversion in Mildura and Latrobe.
  • Education justice initiatives, including Children’s Koori Court Liaison Officers, to connect young people appearing before the courts to an appropriate supported education pathway.
  • Education State initiatives to assist disengaged Aboriginal students to better engage and re-engage in education and training, including LOOKOUT Centres, Navigator and Reconnect, and Marrung initiatives.
  • Grants for community organisations to support Aboriginal children and young people at risk of contact with the criminal justice system.


[i] Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, 2010,The State of Victoria’s Children 2009: Aboriginal Children and Young People in Victoria, Victoria State Government.

New opportunities

Over five years we will

Community policing for crime prevention
In progress

Community policing for crime prevention

Support community policing approaches that support crime prevention initiatives and link victims with support services
Custodial Notification Service

Custodial Notification Service

Develop legislation for the requirement of a Custodial Notification Service so that Aboriginal organisations are notified when an Aboriginal person is taken into custody.
Evidence based prevention programs
In progress

Evidence based prevention programs

Support successful evidenced based programs delivered by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to prevent Aboriginal children and youth becoming involved in the criminal justice system.

Future possibilities

We will continue to work with Aboriginal communities to consider

Expand Police cautioning and diversion programs
Future consideration

Expand Police cautioning and diversion programs

Consider making the Koori Youth Cautioning Program, Koori Women’s and Adult Pre-Charge Diversion Programs available in more locations across the state.