29 December 2020
The introduction of a Spent Convictions Bill in Victoria in the new year will mean Victorian children aged between 10 and 15 years of age will finally be treated as such, as children in the eyes of the justice system.
This bill takes some steps to addressing systemic racism in the justice system. Aboriginal children are locked up at extremely high rates without second thought. Other children get to go home.
The penalty for being Aboriginal in the justice system too often is death. One only has to read the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
"Our Nation must acknowledge that this is not an acceptable outcome, not a future we want for our children," VACCA CEO Muriel Bamblett says.
"To write children off as offenders without recognising their potential means we lose our humanity. Any child who interacts with the justice system becomes a victim of it."
"It is critical to understand the systemic and institutional levers that lead to the over representation of Aboriginal children and young people in the justice system. We need to do more and invest in early intervention and family support through Aboriginal agencies to keep our children safe and out of the justice system."
"Our children deserve better. They have a right to a just and equitable service system. Locking children up without addressing what’s happening in the family or in knowing what is leading to their offending early is failing them," says Ms Bamblett
The future of Aboriginal children relies on preventing any interaction with the justice system. Children deserve a second chance to heal and become strong, resilient community members.