Community organisations have raised concerns over growing Indigenous youth incarceration rates in the ACT highlighted in a new report by the Productivity Commission.
The commission's newly-released report on government services found Indigenous youth incarceration rates in the ACT reached their highest peak since 2014-2015 in the last year.
ACTCOSS chief executive Emma Campbell said Indigenous children in the ACT are "locked up at 18-times the rate of non-Indigenous children."
"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people spent 1,877 nights in custody in 2019-2020 in the ACT compared with 1,073 days in 2018 to 2019," she said.
"That's 804 more days that First Nations children slept behind bars in Canberra away from their family and community in 2019 to 2020.
"We need to build a child protection system capable of ensuring the safety and well-being of children while working to keep families together."
Dr Campbell said urgent policy and legal reform was needed and said she wanted to see the ACT government raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 as soon as possible.
Winnunga Nimmityjah chief executive Julie Tongs called on the ACT government to appoint an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Commissioner to the ACT Human Rights Commission. Ms Tongs urged the government to consider further reforms as well.
"This report shows why the ACT government needs to urgently implement all 28 recommendations from the Our Booris, Our Way report," she said.
"By acting on the report the ACT government can at last begin to address the systemic failures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children involved with child protection in the ACT and ensure that Aboriginal children receive the care that they need.
"These figures highlight why we need additional investment to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, youth and families and to build capacity of Aboriginal community-controlled organisations."