Jared Sharp
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Jared Sharp



Jared Sharp delivered the presentation at the 2014 Young People at Risk Forum. ...

Jared Sharp delivered the presentation at the 2014 Young People at Risk Forum.

The 2014 Young People at Risk Forum reviewed the challenges and solutions surrounding intervention programs around topics such as suicide prevention, substance abuse, mental health, education, employment and housing. Additionally, the forum focused on culturally competent care and care within Aboriginal communities.

For more information about the event, please visit: http://www.informa.com.au/yprisk14



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Jared Sharp Jared Sharp Presentation Transcript

  • How the justice system can increase the vulnerability of Aboriginal young people, and what we can do about it! Jared Sharp Manager, Law &Justice Projects North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA)
  • This Presentation: 1. NT Justice context 2. Procedural Justice 3. Innovative approaches to enhance procedural justice: I. Understandable, accessible processes: • NZ Family Group Conferencing II. Providing young people with intensive, culturally safe support: • NAAJA‟s Throughcare Project • Senior Indigenous Youth Justice Worker III. Culturally strengthening court processes: • Community Council IV. Empowering young people: • New York Youth Courts 4. Recommendations
  • North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) • NAAJA provides high quality and culturally proficient criminal and civil legal assistance for Aboriginal people in the Top End. • In addition to the criminal and civil legal practices, NAAJA has a Law & Justice projects section (policy & law, community legal education, Throughcare project). True Justice, Dignity and Respect for Aboriginal people
  • Young people in detention - how does the NT compare? South Australia Tasmania Northern Territory Population 1,662,200 512,400 236,900 Youth detention as at June 2009 58 32 33 Youth detention as at June 2013 58 17 49 Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2013. Juvenile detention population in Australia 2013. Juvenile justice series no. 13. Cat. no. JUV 31. Canberra: AIHW
  • Young people in detention - how does the NT compare? Youth Detention rate (number of young people per 10,000 relevant population) • National average is 3.25 • NT rate is 18.66 as at June 2013 (it was 12.17 as at June 2009) • WA is next highest at 6.12 • Most jurisdictions around 3 per 10,000
  • Over-incarceration of Aboriginal young people in NT 82% 99% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 120% NT Population NT Adult Prison Population NT Juvenile Detention Population Indigenous Non-Indigenous 30%
  • Child protection in the NT • On just about every wellbeing and safety measure NT children are at greater vulnerability than children in other jurisdictions. • NT Children‟s Commissioner has identified hazards confronting NT children: o Exposure to family violence o Teen parenting (carer instability, poverty) o Exposure in utero to alcohol/nicotine o Parental use of other substances o Poor nutrition o Various diseases such as otitis media o Abuse and neglect o Poor school enrolment and attendance
  • Child protection in the NT Basis of substantiations (2011-12): Neglect 53% Emotional 27% Physical 17% Sexual 3% Systemic issues affecting Aboriginal young people "Overcrowding, poverty means that we have created an environment that when looked at from white middle class eyes is neglect" Frank Hytten, CEO Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care Source: DCF 2012, cited by Dr Howard Bath, NT Children‟s Commissioner, „Vulnerability, Risk and Justice for Children and Young People in the Northern Territory‟, paper at the Fourteenth Annual Biennial conference of the Criminal Lawyers Association NT, Bali, June 27, 2013. See: http://www.clant.org.au/index.php/the-bali-conference/2013
  • Child protection applications made as first step not last resort Example: • NAAJA Civil team supports parents in child protection applications in relation to their children • T is a mother of a newborn baby. • Department of Children and Families (DCF) removed baby shortly after birth and applied for short term protection order • T wishes to breastfeed. Concern is that in similar cases, DCF have not made it a priority for children in care to get consistent supply of mother‟s milk • Major protective concerns are domestic violence • Father, however was in prison • Court ordered that baby be returned to mother‟s care, at least until father released from prison 9
  • Over-representation of Aboriginal young people • 570 of the 695 children in care in the Northern Territory were Aboriginal as at 30 June 2012 (82%) Source: NT Children‟s Commissioner, 2012 Annual Report
  • 2. Procedural Justice • What is procedural justice? 1. Extent to which court proceedings are understandable, comprehensible, 2. Extent to which parties have a voice in decision-making 3. Decisions made which address needs of community, victim, defendant Aboriginal people and procedural justice: • Foreign legal concepts • Historical (and current) power imbalances • Social cohesion (Prof Tony Vinson) – link between offender and their community. Where is the focus on cultural reconnection, healing, bringing in family and community to reestablish links? 11
  • Lack of Procedural Justice (Youth Justice) Pre court • Opportunity to access diversion to avoid need for court • Involvement of Elders, community leaders, family • Supports provided for YP, parents, family • Alternative bail options to avoid being taken into custody Court • Language used in court • Complex concepts • Formality of „adult like‟ court process • Being in cells near adults, psychological impact • Young person not directly involved in courtroom conversation • Only Aboriginal person in court (absence of family, Elders) • Sometimes process happens as if young person not even there Post court • Support to attend appointments • Support to understand court orders • Support to address changes in circumstances
  • Lack of Procedural Justice (Child Protection) Pre court • Opportunity to develop care plan to avoid need for court intervention • Supports provided for parents, family Court • Language used in court • Complex concepts • Formality of court process (ie. giving evidence) • Parties not directly involved in conversation • Only Aboriginal person in court Post court • Support to attend appointments • Support to understand court orders • Support to address changes in circumstances
  • 3. What are some innovative approaches to enhance procedural justice?
  • • „lynch-pin‟ of NZ youth justice and child protection systems • Blended Maori/Western model • All child protection matters must go to FGC before application can be made • Conferencing or alternative used in almost all youth justice matters 15 I. Family Group Conferencing
  • I. Family Group Conferencing Purpose: “to take power out of the hands of the State and judiciary and place it with the family and whänau” –Judge Boshier, NZ Family Court Recognises: those directly involved (young person, whänau, victim and community) are best placed to put together a plan to address underlying issues, support young person, bolster family
  • I. Family Group Conferencing NZ evaluations: • From 2001 – 2011, decrease in apprehensions and offending (in contrast to adults) • 1/3 of young people who go through FGC didn‟t re- offend within 2 years. • Another 1/3 only re-offended in minor way • Some criticisms: held in offices, tired outcomes 17
  • I. Family Group Conferencing Conferencing in the NT: • In legislation, but conferences do not form an active part in youth justice or child protection practice in the Northern Territory • The result? • parties disempowered, lack voice, lack understanding • families not brought into the process • Too much left to courts • Impacts quality of plans/sentencing outcomes • Key issues not addressed
  • I. Family Group Conferencing Recommendation 1 FGC be implemented in the NT: • Youth justice – pre-court diversion, court diversion, sentencing • Child protection - all matters where DCF considering applying for a protection order should first go to FGC
  • II. Intensive, culturally safe support Support gaps in the NT Young people cycling through courts, detention, then prison Not addressing key issues: • Very limited access to therapeutic programs in the community • Very limited access to programs in detention • Not engaged with school, training, work • Precarious housing • Leave detention to same situation • YP doesn‟t understand the system The result? • YP quickly return to detention, graduates to prison (NT recidivism is highest in Australia)
  • II. Intensive, culturally safe support NAAJA‟s Throughcare Project • Established 2009 • Prison-based workers, support detainees access services and develop post release plans (especially parole) • Intensive workers, support detainees 6 months pre release and at least 6 months post release • What is Throughcare? support from custody to successful reintegration into the community Voluntary “continuous, co-ordinated and integrated” (Clay, 2000)
  • How Throughcare works 6 months pre-release Build relationship Learn about aspirations, barriers and goals Assist to develop a release plan that empowers them to identify their own goals and work with them to address any barriers Encourage and support Work with family, home visits Work with other agencies in coordinated way 6 or more months post-release Progressively empower client to take increasing control over their affairs Not simply doing tasks for client, but supporting client when no one else able to Working with individual and family Encouragement, support through ups and downs Link with services Work with other agencies in coordinated way
  • Throughcare’s success • Only 13% of our clients return to prison whilst part of our program • 57% recidivism rate in the NT • Fiscally-sound: Throughcare well and truly pays for itself. If we keep just 5 kids out of detention for 12 months, we are paying for the annual cost of the project • Community-based, integrated within NAAJA, culturally strengthening • Voluntary, on client‟s terms, helps build trust
  • II. Intensive, culturally safe support Senior Indigenous Youth Justice Worker • based on Throughcare model • Provides early intervention, prevention and intensive case management services to YP who are beginning to come in contact with the criminal justice system. • works intensively with the YP and their families to steer them away from the criminal justice system
  • II. Intensive, culturally safe support Senior Indigenous Youth Justice Worker • underlying issues • areas of need – e.g. accommodation, employment support, education, counselling needs, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation, family issues • link with services and facilitate referrals • link with mentors and Elders • attending appointments, community work • support/advocate DCF and Corrections • court reports - a „face behind the offender‟ by giving a sense of the YP‟s ideas, beliefs and goals
  • Senior Indigenous Youth Justice Worker – initial impact • Identifying issues YP face – alcohol/drugs, exposure to violence, cognitive impairment, disability, petrol sniffing • Referrals to support services • Facilitating engagement with services • Giving services fuller picture of YP being dealt with
  • Senior Indigenous Youth Worker: referrals/engagement July – December 2013 Accomm odation Centreli nk Counsell ing Diversio n AOD Counsell ing Commu nity Work Educatio n Employ ment Family Support Fines/D ebt Mental Health Support Mentorin g Other Health Support Transpo rt Identific ation Male 9 2 5 2 1 9 12 5 16 1 0 4 0 12 1 Female 2 0 1 0 0 0 4 0 4 0 2 3 1 2 0 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 Numberofclients
  • II. Intensive, culturally safe support Recommendation 2 Throughcare and Indigenous Youth Worker roles be expanded across NT: • Aboriginal community-controlled is crucial • NAAJA Throughcare model should be expanded across NT and Australia • Youth justice – not just 1 worker in Darwin, and funding certainty needed • Child protection – Indigenous Youth Worker role urgently needed
  • III. Culturally strengthening processes 29 Rangatahi Court Pasifika Youth CourtCree Court Children‟s Koori Court
  • III. Culturally strengthening processes We need a Bi-Cultural Justice System:  Key role for Elders, community leaders  Bringing in family  Less formal, intimidating  Culturally safe  Reconnecting Aboriginal YP with culture  Getting full picture of the individual  Getting to underlying issues  Aboriginal judges and magistrates needed  Local, community-driven initiatives
  • Growing evidence base Example: Community Council (Toronto, Canada) • Running for 20 years • YP pleads guilty, court refers sentencing to Community Council • panel of 3 Elders, service providers meet with defendant and family • Culturally safe environment, seek to re-engage YP with community, identity, emphasis on culture and pride in culture, pride in self, getting YP to think about future goals • Deal with issues underpinning offending – cultural/healing focus • Council decides plan • Court approves plan if appropriate
  • Growing evidence base Example: Community Council (Toronto, Canada) Ontario Department of Justice evaluation: 1. Program reduced an offender‟s likelihood of recidivating by 33.7% 2. Clients said Community Council helped them more than regular court to change behaviour and life circumstances 3. Community Council was important link between Aboriginal offenders and the community of Aboriginal services
  • III. Culturally strengthening processes Recommendation 3 Aboriginal justice programs needed in NT • empower and support communities to take ownership of local justice issues • empower courts and give them the resources to trial new things tailored for local communities. • Aboriginal judges and magistrates to lead the way
  • IV. Empowering young people New York Youth Court • Modelled on conventional court process • Real life cases referred by judge - YP pleading guilty to minor offence • Youth Court includes a „sentencing jury‟ to decide appropriate ways for YP to get back on track • harnesses empathy, expertise YP have for other YP 34
  • Red Hook Youth Court
  • How do Youth Courts work? • Jury considers what will help young person - community work, essay(s), decision-making session, goal-setting session, conflict resolution, or referral to social worker (at CCI). • Decide dispositions by consensus voting • Judge announces decision
  • Example – „Alice‟ • Trespassing. • If you could go back, would you change anything? (Yes) • „Do you understand how trespassing can affect your future goals?‟ (wants to be singer) • „Are you a positive influence?‟ (besides this, yeah) • „What learn from this experience?‟ • Action Plan: 1. community work. 2. chose not to give her a letter of apology. Alice didn't think she needed to. Jury thought if they asked to write one, it wouldn‟t be heartfelt. 3. essays. „What steps do you need to take to achieve your goal?‟ (250 words) to help her take steps to reach goal. Another on how trespassing negatively affects the community and her future (300 words) 4. referred to social worker
  • Why Youth Courts are so good • Kids ask the hard questions that never get asked in court • Questions are more effective coming from peers. Young person squirmed under the persistent fire of 12 of their peers!! • entirely rehabilitative. Ensuring young person knows what did was wrong, and turning something negative into a positive. • non-judgmental. No snide comments, arrogance from Members
  • Why Youth Courts are so good • Kids who have been respondents sometimes end up as members! • Teaches about the law • Teaches to work as part of team and leadership. Also leads to further education, employment (At Red Hook, almost all the kids told me they want to become lawyers) • Compliance rate is off the charts. Nothing compels respondents to do what Youth Court decide, yet 94% do complete!!
  • IV. Empowering young people Recommendation 4 Implement a Peer Court in the NT • positive peer influences for YP in trouble with the law • pathway for YP to learn about, and move to career in the law
  • Thank you! More info? jared.sharp@naaja.org.au www.naaja.org.au 41