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‘Something needs to be done’: Snapshot of ethnic youth in justice system a ‘concern’

Neil Mitchell
Article image for ‘Something needs to be done’: Snapshot of ethnic youth in justice system a ‘concern’

A member of the Youth Parole Board says a “concerning” snapshot of the state’s youth detention centres shows there are some ethnic groups who are over-represented.

A report by the chair of the Youth Parole Board, Judge Michael Bourke, warns of a “trend in the wrong direction” showing half of the youth in juvenile detention come from Aboriginal, Maori or Pacific Islander, or African backgrounds.

Carmel Guerra is a member of the youth parole board, and also the CEO of the Centre for Multicultural Youth.

She told Neil Mitchell there was a clear over-representation.

“It is an issue that’s been of concern for my organisation for quite a few years, because we’ve been working with these communities particularly the African communities to try and support them to support the young people,” she said.

“For us on the parole board, it is a concern,¬†they are over-represented in these groups of young people that are feeling really alienated and disconnected from society.

“That is very high figures for a very low percentage of young people we do keep in detention.”

She told Neil something needs to be done to address the problem.

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Neil Mitchell said the statistics show youth crime is surging, despite what some are saying.

It follows a report in the Herald Sun today, with statistics showing offenders in the 15-19 are surging ahead of any other age bracket in crimes against the person.

“Youth, aged between 15-19 have the worst record for crimes against the person,” he said.

“These figures from the the parole board say half of all youth in juvenile detention are from Aboriginal background, Maori or Pacific Islander, east African mainly Sudanese.

“The snapshot here – youth crime is up, crime against the person such as aggravated burglaries, assaults, are up, involving youth.

“We have a youth crime problem, we have an ethnic twist to it.

“Ignoring it won’t fix it. Admit it, recognise it, deal with it. That starts with Daniel Andrews.”

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Neil Mitchell