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A stellar line up of Australia’s most prominent legal professionals, including renowned NSW Supreme Court Justice Dina Yehia and esteemed barrister Tony McAvoy SC, will headline a landmark multi-day event on Indigenous youth justice in Sydney this month.

Aboriginal Elders, community leaders, medical specialists, academics and members of the judiciary from across the country will come together for the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration (AIJA)’s 2022 Indigenous Youth Justice Conference – the first to be held in person since 2019.

In collaboration with the Law Society of NSW, the event will examine “many of the thorny and complex issues” associated with Indigenous youth justice in Australia and promote discussion about ways to improve the situation.

AIJA President Justice Jenny Blokland said acknowledgement of the severity of these issues is not new and the organisation has been attempting to address problems with over-incarceration and access to justice for more than a decade.

“There are many complex contributing factors to the over-representation of Indigenous youth in detention. However, what all of these young people have in common is that they have been through the justice system,” Justice Blokland said.

“That’s why – as judicial officers, court administrators, members of the legal profession, who aspire to excellence in judicial administration – we cannot ignore this issue.”

In Australia, half of the children aged 10–17 in detention are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.  This group is grossly over-represented in detention, given about 6 per cent of people aged 10–17 in Australia are Indigenous. That means Indigenous youth are roughly 16 times more likely to be in detention than non-Indigenous young people.

The conference will be held across two days on 29–30 October, including a Gala Dinner with a keynote speech from author Thomas Mayor. A Torres Strait Islander man, Mayor is a tireless campaigner for the rights of Indigenous peoples and is a signatory to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The first day will include panel sessions on raising the age of criminal responsibility, culturally appropriate diversionary programs and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Justice Yehia will chair a discussion on day two on Youth Koori Courts, alongside NSW Children’s Court Magistrate Sue Duncombe and Heemi Taumaunu, the Chief Judge of New Zealand’s District Court.

The second day will have sessions on bail laws, girls in custody, Gladue-style reports and gender diversity. The conference will be closed with a discussion on the significance of culture to wellbeing, healing and rehabilitation.

See the full list of speakers and register for the conference here.