Around 75 per cent of Aboriginal young people will encounter the criminal justice system before they turn 23.
Parramatta Children’s Court hopes to change that.
More than 60 young Aboriginal people have been part of the Youth Koori Court pilot since it began operating once a week at Parramatta Children’s Court in 2015.
Run in an informal setting, the dedicated court involves greater Aboriginal involvement to help young offenders turn their lives around.
Another caseworker will be employed, thanks to a $220,000 state government grant. It will also help pay for training, workshops, family conferences and administrative costs associated with the Youth Koori Court, run by Magistrate Sue Duncombe.
It costs $600 per day to keep a juvenile in detention.
“It’s huge drain on resources, so we put some effort into meeting their needs, whether it be support in drugs, alcohol, mental health, employment, education or housing,” Magistrate Duncombe said. “Some have been in and out of custody since they were 12.”
She welcomed last week’s announcement by Attorney General Mark Speakman.
“One of things we’ve needed for a long time is a dedicated position to case work. The case workers go above and beyond their jobs.”
Magistrate Duncombe hopes the pilot will be expanded to non-indigenous young and adult offenders.
“We want to roll it out to other areas and get other magistrates involved,” Mr Speakman said.