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  • The NSW Youth Koori Court (YKC) began at Parramatta Children’s Court on 6 February and will continue on a pilot basis for 12 months. It was developed in response to concerns about the growing number of young Aboriginal people in custody.
  • The YKC works by applying the law (Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act), as well as an understanding and respect for Aboriginal culture. Mediation principles and practices are employed in a conference process with the young person together with their parents, Elders and various support agencies.
  • All sentencing options remain available to the Court.

The over-representation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system is unequivocal, and the statistics in relation to Aboriginal youth are particularly troubling. ‘By the time they reached the age of 23, more than three-quarters (75.6 per cent) of the NSW Indigenous population had been cautioned by police, referred to a youth justice conference or convicted of an offence in a NSW criminal court. The corresponding figure for the non-Indigenous population of NSW was just 16.9 per cent.’ (Weatherburn, Don Arresting Incarceration (Aboriginal Studies Press, 2014) 5 ). There is clearly a financial and social cost to the community in detaining young people.

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