The incarceration of Australian Aboriginal youth is one characterized by immense injustice. These youths are imprisoned as early as 10 years, despite appeals by the indigenous groups to raise the criminal age to the global 14 years. The conditions are also undesirable, with the prisons having poor hygiene care and facilities for these youths (Australian Associated Press, 2022). There are appeals by indigenous people to better the conditions and address the arising issue of the transfer of children to adult prisons. The transfer of these youths by the government exposes the youth to adult conditions too early in their lives and predisposes them to abuse.
The government claims that the children being moved from the juvenile detention centers to the adult detention center are disruptive to the activities in the children’s centers. These youths are accused of forming a suicide pact and indulging in suicide attempts within the juvenile prison. Such tendencies are detrimental to the activities within the facility, aimed at reforming the other willing youths through education. The movement of these youths is intended to create a safe and conducive environment for youth who are focused on self-reform. The transfer is also accompanied by reforms to the adult prison to ensure it meets the needs of the youth who join the facility.
Media commentators have differed in their views, regarding the actions of the government and the incarceration of the indigenous youth. Some support the government’s actions, claiming that the state merely exercises its duty to enforce the law. Additionally, they fete the state for its role in ensuring the nation remains secure, lawful, and conducive through the elimination of rogue elements. Some media commentators sympathize with members of the indigenous community, calling out the government for such systemic injustices. They believe that the administration abuses the power bestowed upon it by the people and should stop.
International organizations have expressed their views on the transfer of youth to the adult facility, calling the government to account for its actions. Amnesty International has accused the Australian government of human rights violations alongside the abuse of children’s rights (Amnesty International, 2022). Globally, the criminal age is recognized as 14 years, yet the government insists on arresting and incarcerating youth at 10 years. Amnesty International also recognizes these children as a complex needs group, which should be treated with care. Instead of incarceration, adults are urged to treat these children with care and instead focus on reforming their ways.
Indigenous groups, through their elected leaders, have made their views on the issue known. Dorinda Cox, Greens elected senator expressed her disgust at the government’s hesitancy to find lasting solutions to the problem. She was appalled by society’s tendency to blame children for the sins of the government, entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the youth. She expressed these views on a social media application, Twitter, and this has been a popular method of expressing outrage among many indigenous people (Cox, 2022). Other popular methods of expressing outrage and calling for action include Facebook.
The government has also been at the forefront to defend its actions, regarding the incarceration of youth and the transfer of some to an adult facility. The government has relied on print media and audiovisual media to express its position on the issue. Burmas, (2022) reported that the youth under scrutiny were found difficult to control within the juvenile facility and were responsible for aggressive and destructive behavior against the facility and staff. The adult center would serve to ensure these children are better controlled with the improved facilities at the adult center and the staffing.
Media commentators have resulted to various forms of media including print through opinion articles to express their views. Talk shows and interviews on television and radio are also popular methods and have been used to express thoughts regarding the incarceration of youth. Brennan, (2022) resulted in a think piece in The Diplomat, to assert the unlawful and inhumane nature of the government’s actions. The piece highlights the state of the adult prison where the youth were being moved to and its unsuitability for underage people.
Other groups such as Amnesty International resulted to use their official website to express dissatisfaction with the government’s actions. The webpage containing the issue analyzed the abuse of authority from multiple points of view, including a human rights perspective, a children’s rights standpoint, and a medical point (Amnesty International, 2022). The organization asserted that the criminal age in Australia, especially against indigenous groups was lower than the internationally recommended standard. They called for urgent action by the government to ensure that the rights of indigenous youths are protected and their welfare is given precedence and sufficient attention.
Shaping of Progress
The indigenous group has helped achieve massive success in handling the youth incarceration of the indigenous population. The outcry against the government has increased awareness amongst the local population about their needs and rights (Walsh & Fitzgerald, 2022). This has helped more people add their voices to the outcry compelling action. Speaking about the abuse of youth during incarceration has eliminated fear, provoking more to speak about their experiences (Bucci, 2022). Sharing the experiences of more youths has been vital in providing the full picture of the situation, generating more outrage, and compelling action.
The government, in response to the various calls by multiple people and groups, has promised a review of its policies. This shows positive progress towards tolerance towards opposing views and greater regard for the rights of youths. The decision to review the incarceration policies is a welcome relief for people from indigenous communities (Hayes, O’Connor, Carr, & Shiraishi, 2022). The review will reveal the need to repress punishment as a means of correction but instead focus on the root cause of the problem. This is positive progress in the right direction for the country and will ensure fairness, and advancement.
Media commentators have been crucial in informing the general public about the different viewpoints regarding the issue at hand. These essential personnel have provoked a national and international conversation about the actions of the government. Such conversations have been a crucial factor in increasing oversight and scrutiny of the government and its actions toward its people (Trigger & Ho, 2022). This ensures that there is sustained public interest in governance issues and that the authorities do not operate in a vacuum. The media commentators have additionally increased urgency on the administration to react, hence the swift action, as long as the conversation dominated the airwaves.
Other groups increased global awareness of the ongoing actions in Australia, especially international organizations. Their voice has been instrumental in ensuring that the compromise of indigenous people is eliminated in the ranks (Pearce & Kinner, 2022). The amplified voice of other groups shows that the matter is not a mere local problem, but a grave concern capable of setting international precedence. The other groups have increased the input of international citizens on Australian matters.
Amnesty International. (2022). Moving kids with complex needs to maximum security prison shameful. Amnesty International Australia.
Australian Associated Press. (2022). Outrage as boys moved from Western Australian juvenile detention centre to maximum security adult prison. The Guardian.
Brennan, D. (2022). How Western Australia criminalizes indigenous children. The Diplomat.
Bucci, N. (2022). “Dying is normal in this jail”: teenager held in Port Phillip prison for four months. The Guardian.
Cox, D. (2022). No child should be in prison. I am appalled that yet again, children are being blamed for what is essentially a failure of duty on care on part of the WA Government. Thread/ #wapol. Twitter.
Hayes, J., O’Connor, T., Carr, C., & Shiraishi, H. (2022). Government launches review of WA’s trouble-plagued juvenile justice system. ABC News.
Pearce, L. A., & Kinner, S. (2022). Why is a UN torture prevention committee visiting Australia? The Conversation.
Trigger, R., & Ho, C. (2022). Urgent bid to stop WA children from being sent to maximum-security adult prison. ABC News.
Walsh, T., & Fitzgerald, R. (2022). Youth Justice, Community Safety and Children’s Rights in Australia. The International Journal of Children’s Rights, 30(3), 617–643.