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Australia: NSW police scheme ‘targeted’ Aboriginal children

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Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders make up about 3% of the country’s population

Australia’s New South Wales police have disproportionately targeted Aboriginal children under a repeat offender monitoring scheme, a report has said.

The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) looked into the cases of 429 children in 2016-18 under the Suspect Target Management Plan (STMP).

It found that 72% of the children, aged nine to 17, were “possibly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander”.

The NSW police challenged the report, saying 47% were Aboriginal.

The STMP has been designed as preventative policing in Australia.

Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders make up about 3% of the population, and are among the country’s most disadvantaged.

What did the report find?

The LECC, the state’s police watchdog, released its report on Thursday.

It said many of the children were placed on the STMP scheme despite being never charged with any crimes.

In one case, a nine-year-old Aboriginal child from a rural area with no previous charges was subsequently charged 94 times, the LECC report says.

The LECC report said the monitoring scheme “showed patterns of targeting that appear to have led to unreasonable, unjust and oppressive interactions for young STMP targets”.

What about NSW police’s response?

The police in Australia’s most populous state is yet to publicly comment on the report’s findings.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller had previously stated any correlation was not due to racial bias.

What is the status of Aboriginal people in Australia?

Aboriginal Australians lived in the country for at least 47,000 years before the arrival of European settlers, and subsequently suffered centuries of violence and oppression.

Consistent government reports have found that indigenous people are disadvantaged across the board, from child mortality rates and life expectancy, to literacy, academic success and employment rates.

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Media captionMiriwoong: The Australian language which barely anybody speaks

Australia has never reached a treaty with its indigenous peoples, which many argue this would bring important recognition. Work has begun on a treaty in the state of Victoria.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are also not recognised in the constitution, though there is ongoing debate about doing so.

More BBC stories on Aboriginal people and culture

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