Reports and publications (published elsewhere)

Preventing crime and promoting rights for Indigenous young people with cognitive disabilities and mental health issues

Posted on: 9 January, 2009
Issue: Vol 9 No 1, January 2009 - March 2009
Related to Cultural ways Social and emotional wellbeing Justice Family Infants and young children Offender health Substance use Social issues

Australian Human Rights Commission, Calma T (2008)
Preventing crime and promoting rights for Indigenous young people with cognitive disabilities and mental health issues. (Report no. 3)
Canberra: Australian Human Rights Commission

This publication investigates early intervention and diversionary practices aimed at preventing criminal behaviour in Indigenous youth suffering from a mental illness and/or cognitive disability. Points of critical intervention are analysed and an alternative framework is proposed based on effective and holistic intervention.

The literature reviewed for this report stated that:

  • Indigenous youth in the criminal justice system are 4 to 5 times more likely to have a cognitive disability than the general population
  • Indigenous understanding of cognitive disability and mental illness is related to interpersonal relationships and cultural identity
  • Disability issues are secondary to cultural identity
  • Social, economic and cultural factors are related to high incidences of cognitive disability and mental illness in this group
  • The education system has not effectively handled this issue
  • Substance misuse is a major problem

The report highlights that there are currently no specific intervention or diversion programs that target Indigenous youth with mental health problems or a cognitive disability however, crime prevention initiatives are available. Recommendations from the report focus on knowledge translation, education and awareness, support for effective programs and policy processes.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

  • Contact details:
    • Australian Human Rights Commission, Level 8 Piccadilly Tower, 133 Castlereagh Street, Sydney NSW 2000, GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001, ph: (02) 9284 9600, fax: (02) 9284 9611
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