The effect of arrest on Indigenous employment prospects
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This bulletin examines the effect of arrest on the employment status of indigenous Australians using data from the 1994 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey.
The effects of criminal conviction on an individual’s employment prospects are a matter of policy significance, especially for Australian Aboriginals who are overrepresented both among the unemployed and among those who come before the criminal justice system. In this study the effect of arrest on the employment status of indigenous Australians is examined using data from the 1994 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey. Having been arrested is found to significantly reduce the probability of indigenous employment by 18.3 and 13.1 percentage points for males and females respectively. The effect also varies according to the reason for a person’s most recent arrest. Differences in arrest rates between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians may explain about 15 per cent of the difference in the level of employment between those groups. Promoting diversion options should be a priority for governments keen to break the nexus between indigenous unemployment and crime.