How Aboriginal women with disabilities are set on a path into the criminal justice system

Found in: Mental health resources

How Aboriginal women with disabilities are set on a path into the criminal justice system

November 2015

Aboriginal women only make up between 2% and 3% of the Australian female population. But the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women entering prison has increased from 21% of all women prisoners in 1996, to a record high of 35% in 2014. In 2015, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women prisoners has increased again by 6% – a higher growth rate than for non-Aboriginal women.

The Indigenous Australians with Mental Health Disorders and Cognitive Disability in the Criminal Justice System (IAMHDCD) project, which draws on a vast dataset of 2731 people who have been in prison in NSW, shows just how badly the system has failed Aboriginal women.

The project tracked this group’s contact with police, courts, legal aid, juvenile justice and adult corrections, government housing, disability, hospitals and community services. The project found that Aboriginal women with mental and cognitive disabilities were the most disadvantaged of those in our study, and the situation is worsening.

Read more about this in The Conversation.