The federal government will fund new research that will investigate ways to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in detention by 30% over the next decade.
A new Indigenous Justice Research Program (IJRP) has been established to deliver what the government has called a ‘solid research and evidence base’ to reduce the number of Indigenous people who are locked up in Australian prisons.
The program will be jointly run by the Australian Institute of Criminology, the National Indigenous Australians Agency,, and the Indigenous Justice Clearinghouse.
Announcing the initiative on Friday, home affairs minister Karen Andrews issued a joint statement with minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt, noting that the research funding was part of the government’s national agreement on Closing the Gap.
“As a government, we’re working to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and young people in detention by at least 15% and 30% respectively, in the next 10 years,” Andrews said.
Minister Wyatt said that the target-driven goals of the government’s Closing the Gap national agreement required evidence to show how to reach them. He also underscored the complexity of the overrepresentation of Indigenous youth and adults in incarceration.
“We must do everything we can to reduce the rates in a culturally informed and coordinated way,” he said.
Wyatt added that the research would examine the reasons for Indigenous overrepresentation in prisons and would inform the future work of a new Justice Policy Partnership.
“The Partnership was formed under priority reform one of Closing the Gap – we’re bringing together all governments and Indigenous stakeholders to work on solutions to reduce the rates of adult and youth Indigenous incarceration.”
The call for researchers to apply for funding under the government research program will close at the end of November. The research priority areas will include Indigenous approaches to crime and criminal justice; and ATSI peoples’ contact with and experience in the criminal justice and related systems.