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The NSW crime statistics body has found a reduced risk of jail time for young Aboriginal people who participate in the Youth Koori Court.

The Youth Koori Court (YKC) was established in response to the alarming over-representation of Aboriginal young people in the criminal justice system. The YKC is an alternative case management process for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people charged with a criminal offence.

The YKC was first established as a pilot program in Parramatta Children’s Court in 2015. Following its success, it was expanded to the Surry Hills Children’s Court in 2019. So far, 151 Aboriginal young people have been referred to the YKC.

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) conducted a study in April 2022 comparing the 151 YKC participants with 2,883 similar Aboriginal young people who had criminal matters finalised in the Children’s Court.

In their report, BOSCAR concluded there is a reduced risk of imprisonment for Aboriginal young people who participate in the YKC without any adverse impact on re-offending rates. YKC participants were 5.9 per cent less likely to be sentenced to a Juvenile Control Order (JCO) and 7.6 per cent less likely to be sentenced to a JCO if re-convicted.

The YKC differs from the standard court process because sentencing is deferred for up to 12 months after the young person pleads guilty or the offence is proven. An action and support plan is also drawn up to address the young person’s underlying risk factors for offending.

This is supported by a caseworker and nominated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elder or respected person. Participation in the YKC process is considered in the court’s final sentencing decision.