Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

NSW Youth Koori Court reduces custody rates for Aboriginal young people

Release Date: Thursday 28 April 2022

Link to report summary - The impact of the NSW Youth Koori Court on sentencing and re-offending outcomes

Release Date: Thursday 28 April 2022

A specialist court for Aboriginal young people charged with criminal offences appears to be successful in reducing rates of incarceration.

A new evaluation by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) compared sentencing and reoffending outcomes for 151 Aboriginal young people who participated in the Youth Koori Court with 2,883 comparable Aboriginal young people who proceeded through the usual Children's Court process. 

The evaluation found that Youth Koori Court participants were 40% less likely to receive a custodial sentence at their court finalisation relative to Aboriginal young people who were sentenced through the regular pathway.

While the evaluation found no statistically significant reduction in reoffending, Youth Koori Court participants who did reoffend were 84% less likely to receive a custodial penalty at re-conviction.

Commenting on the results, Jackie Fitzgerald, Executive Director at BOCSAR, said the findings suggest that culturally sensitive, case management approaches can help to reduce the significant over-representation of Aboriginal young people in youth detention.  "It is an alarming reality that in 2022, 43% of young people in custody are Aboriginal.  The Youth Koori Court offers a promising model to reduce incarceration rates of Aboriginal young people."

About the Youth Koori Court

The Youth Koori Court has been available to eligible Aboriginal young people in Parramatta Children's Court since February 2015 and Surry Hills Children's Court since February 2019. 

The Youth Koori court differs from the standard court process in several ways:

  1. Sentencing is deferred for up to 12 months after the young person has indicated that they are willing to plead guilty or had the offence proven after hearing;
  2. An Action and Support plan is developed and implemented to address the young person's underlying risk factors for offending, which is supported by a caseworker and nominated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders or Respected Persons, and;
  3. Participation in the Youth Koori Court process is taken into account by the court when sentencing the young person for their index offence.

Further enquiries: Jackie Fitzgerald, Executive Director, BOCSAR  0423 139 687
Email: bcsr@justice.nsw.gov.au
Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au