The Hon. Dr P. WONG
: I ask the Minister for Juvenile Justice, Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth, and Minister Assisting the Minister for the Environment a question without notice. In view of the recent report by the Australian Institute of Criminology that showed that the imprisonment rate has increased by around 4.4 per cent a year over the past decade, what is the rate of juvenile offending and detention over the past decade? What structures and procedures are in place in the juvenile justice system to address the growing representation rate of juveniles from non-English-speaking backgrounds into the system?
The Hon. CARMEL TEBBUTT:
I will take on notice the first part of the honourable member’s question because I do not have the material available to me to enable me to provide a response at this time. However, the Department of Juvenile Justice is putting in place measures to address the important issue of the overrepresentation of people from non-English speaking backgrounds. At the moment there is a significant overrepresentation of young indigenous people in detention centres.
The representation of young people from a South-East Asian background is roughly of the order of 4.5 per cent; the representation of young people from an Arabic speaking background is roughly 4 per cent; and the representation of Pacific islanders and Maori detainees is 9 per cent - a significant increase in representation for that group.
The department is undertaking a number of measures to address the services and diversionary strategies provided in detention centres to try to ensure that young people have options available to them other than control orders. I point out that the purpose of the Youth Justice Conferencing Scheme - a scheme to which I have referred in this House on a number of occasions - is to enable the department to intervene early in the piece and to provide options other than control orders to meet the needs of young people through the conferencing process.
Drug and alcohol counselling, extra family support, or issues relating to schooling can be addressed. The Youth Justice Conferencing Scheme covers a range of issues. I will take the first part of the honourable member’s question on notice as I am not presently able to provide information, going back 10 years, relating to the rate of incarceration of people from a non-English speaking background.