Aboriginal wellbeing

Reducing the over representation of Aboriginal people in custody.
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We will enable the fuller participation of Aboriginal people in Western Australia's social and economic life through true partnerships with Aboriginal Western Australians that build on existing strengths and leadership. The Government is committed to supporting Aboriginal Western Australians to achieve real change and better outcomes.

Reduce the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in custody

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Working together to empower Aboriginal communities will deliver better outcomes for Aboriginal Western Australians.

What do we want to achieve?

By 2028-29, reduce the number of Aboriginal adults in prison by 23% from 2017-18 numbers. 

  • In WA, Aboriginal adults are imprisoned at about 60% above the national average rate for Aboriginal incarceration.
  • This has a significant impact on the cultural, emotional and social wellbeing of those individuals, their families and communities. 
  • A focus on prevention via a whole-of-government approach to address disadvantage and access to necessary services will support this outcome.
  • The WA Government will work in partnership with Aboriginal communities to enable and empower Aboriginal people to live healthy and prosperous lives.
  • Public sector agencies will collaborate across areas as diverse as health, education, transport, justice, housing and commerce to work together with Aboriginal-led organisations to bring about positive change.  
  • Local government, business and community also have a significant role to play in achieving this target.

Interpreting the results

The graph represents the Western Australian Aboriginal prisoner population (average daily number per year), as reported by the Department of Justice.
In 2017-18 there were 2591 adult Aboriginal people in prison in Western Australia.
Based on the proportion of the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal population this means that Aboriginal adults are incarcerated at 16 times the rate of non-Aboriginal adults. There has been an upward trend in imprisonment of Aboriginal adults in WA over the past decade.

The graph shows Department of Justice data of the count of Aboriginal people incarcerated in Western Australia from 2007-08 to 2018-19.  The target is shown at 2028-29.



Current activities

This section provides a snapshot of some of the activities already underway to help achieve this target.

  • Community building initiatives such as:
    • the Aboriginal Procurement Policy to drive Aboriginal entrepreneurship and business opportunities
    • the Aboriginal Ranger Program is creating jobs and training and community development opportunities for Aboriginal people across a range of tenures in regional and remote communities across Western Australia.
  • Initiatives to turn young lives around such as Target 120 that brings different agencies together to work with young people and their families to reduce reoffending. Youth Justice Services in the Kimberley and Pilbara work with young people on community orders to reduce reoffending.
  • Custody focused programs such as:
    • Aboriginal specific therapeutic programs delivered in our prisons, including in Wandoo Rehabilitation Prison, WA’s first Alcohol and other Drug rehabilitation prison for women in custody.  
    • the new Custody Notification Service providing a critical welfare check and fundamental legal advice to all Aboriginal people taken into police custody beginning in the first half of 2019.
  • Evidence-based justice system reform such as:
    • creation of the Western Australian Crime Statistics and Research bureau
    • development of a Justice Pipeline Model to provide greater insight into the criminal justice system and to inform policy design.

Election commitments

  • Supporting Communities
  • Law Reform Initiatives
  • Target 120
Page reviewed 22 August 2019