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Aboriginal women’s access to diversionary programs in NSW Ruth McCausland School of Social Sciences University of New South Wales.

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Presentation on theme: "Aboriginal women’s access to diversionary programs in NSW Ruth McCausland School of Social Sciences University of New South Wales."— Presentation transcript:

1 Aboriginal women’s access to diversionary programs in NSW Ruth McCausland School of Social Sciences University of New South Wales

2 Background Aboriginal women make up 2% of the female population, but over 30% of the women’s prison population in NSW Aboriginal women experience higher rates of: Mental health disorders Cognitive impairment Family and sexual violence Homelessness Return to prison

3 Women’s Advisory Council, Corrective Services NSW Commissioned research on Aboriginal women’s access to diversionary programs in NSW Participation and completion Particular barriers and challenges Literature review – research and evaluations Data from diversionary program staff, BOCSAR

4 Diversionary programs in NSW Police cautions Pre-sentence programs MERIT CREDIT Drug Court Court intervention programs Circle Sentencing Forum Sentencing Sentencing options

5 Findings of research Aboriginal women were less likely than non-Aboriginal women to be referred to or complete pre-sentencing and court intervention programs MERIT – 50% of Aboriginal women referred were accepted, and 58% of those completed Significant regional variance – ie Circle Sentencing, CREDIT Data unavailable for Drug Court Under-represented in Forum Sentencing – 15% of women Less likely to access and complete programs in custody

6 Sentencing data on Indigenous women NSW Criminal Court Statistics 2011: number of persons found guilty in court of selected offences by Indigenous status, gender and principal penalty Assault Theft (except mtr vehicles) Theft from retail premises Exceed the prescribed content of alcohol/other substance limit- 218 Drive while licence disqualified or suspended Possess/use illicit drugs Breach bond (supervised) – 146 Resist or hinder police officer or justice official Riot and affray Unlawful entry with intent/burglary, break and enter - 97 Breach of community service order - 82 Breach bond (unsupervised) - 82 Obtain benefit by deception - 68 Breach of suspended sentence - 47 Breach of bail - 6

7 Assault Of those convicted of assault in 2011: 11.4 % of Indigenous women were imprisoned 2.1 % of non-Indigenous women were imprisoned BOCSAR NSW Criminal Court Statistics 2011: No. of persons found guilty in court of selected offences by Indigenous status, gender and principal penalty Total convictedImprisoned Indigenous women Non-Indigenous women

8 Theft from retail premises Of those convicted of theft from retail premises in 2011: 14.1 % of Indigenous women were imprisoned 3.2 % of non-Indigenous women were imprisoned BOCSAR NSW Criminal Court Statistics 2011: No. of persons found guilty in court of selected offences by Indigenous status, gender and principal penalty Total convictedImprisoned Indigenous women Non-Indigenous women 78025

9 Theft (except motor vehicles) Of those convicted of theft (except motor vehicles) in 2011: 19.2 % of Indigenous women were imprisoned 3.9 % of non-Indigenous women were imprisoned BOCSAR NSW Criminal Court Statistics 2011: No. of persons found guilty in court of selected offences by Indigenous status, gender and principal penalty Total convictedImprisoned Indigenous women Non-Indigenous women

10 Drive while licence disqualified or suspended Of those convicted of drive while licence disqualified or suspended in 2011: 10.8 % of Indigenous women were imprisoned 2.9 % of non-Indigenous women were imprisoned BOCSAR NSW Criminal Court Statistics 2011: No. of persons found guilty in court of selected offences by Indigenous status, gender and principal penalty Total convictedImprisoned Indigenous women Non-Indigenous women

11 Breach of suspended sentence Of those convicted of breach of suspended sentence in 2011: 66 % of Indigenous women were imprisoned 45.8 % of non-Indigenous women were imprisoned BOCSAR NSW Criminal Court Statistics 2011: No. of persons found guilty in court of selected offences by Indigenous status, gender and principal penalty Total convictedImprisoned Indigenous women 4731 Non-Indigenous women 7233

12 Invisibility of Aboriginal women Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner (2001): Aboriginal women ‘remain largely invisible to policy makers and program designers with very little attention devoted to their specific situation and needs’ Need for an Aboriginal women-centred approach to diversionary policy and programming

13 Recommendations of research 1.Disaggregation of data 2.Impact Statements 3.More comprehensive evaluation 4.Expansion of sentencing options

14 Recommendations of research (cont.) 5.Alternative monitoring systems 6.Amendment of eligibility criteria 7. Expansion of diversionary programs 8. Staff training and resources

15 Recommendations of research (cont.) 9.Aboriginal Practice Checklist 10. Aboriginal staff 11. Appropriate housing 12. Holistic, one-stop shop model


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