A special court to hear cases involving Aboriginal children and a series of diversion and assistance programs are among a suite of measures to reduce the level of Indigenous incarceration in South Australia.
The state government will establish an Aboriginal Justice Agreement to develop a collaborative approach to improve justice outcomes.
It will also build a new community corrections centre at Port Augusta with culturally appropriate rehabilitation and reintegration spaces, develop a program to ensure Indigenous offenders are ready to return to the workforce upon their release, and establish a drug and alcohol treatment facility.
In a two-year trial, a Youth Aboriginal Community Court in Adelaide will aim to address escalation points in the offending of young people and implement protective strategies to divert them away from a life of crime.
Children aged between 10 and 13 and charged with minor offences will be specifically directed away from custody through a program of assistance, including short-term accommodation where no other suitable bail option has been identified.
The government has allocated $25 million over four years to cover the initiatives.
It said Aboriginal people in SA were 12 times more likely to be imprisoned than the general population, with that figure rising to 18 times greater for youth offenders.
"The rates at which Aboriginal people are imprisoned are unacceptable. Past government policy has not worked to change this state of affairs," Attorney-General Kyam Maher said.
"This needs to be addressed urgently. Providing a significant investment and concentrated effort will work to achieve the transformative change that is required."
Premier Peter Malinauskas said the state government was committed to lowering the over-representation of Aboriginal people in custody by at least 15 per cent by 2031.
"Evidence shows early contact with the criminal justice system leads to poorer health and wellbeing outcomes and increased risk of re-offence," he said.
"A multi-levelled approach, which spans generations, is imperative in reducing these rates, and vastly improving the lives of Aboriginal people."
Australian Associated Press