4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2009-10 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/06/2011   
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Contents >> Magistrates' Courts >> ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER DEFENDANTS

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER DEFENDANTS

Limited data about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants are presented for the first time in this publication. This information is available for defendants finalised in the Magistrates' Courts in New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory only.

The majority of defendants in the Magistrates' Courts with a traffic offence as their principal offence have an unknown Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status recorded. This is because most traffic offences are related to fines issued by road traffic authorities. These defendants have a large impact on the proportion of unknowns in the data, therefore they have been removed from the data in order to enable a focus on those defendants that are more likely to have been in contact with police and are more likely to have had their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status recorded.

Other offence categories that may also be affected by this issue are: public order; offences against justice procedures, government security and operations; and miscellaneous offences. This should be taken into account when comparing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous data for these offence categories. For further information on the identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants in the Criminal Courts collection (see Explanatory Notes paragraphs 48-51).


New South Wales

In the Magistrates' Courts in 2009-10, 8,608 (11%) defendants finalised in New South Wales identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

The proportion of males and females varied for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants when compared to non-Indigenous defendants. In New South Wales, 27% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants were female compared to 17% of non-Indigenous defendants.

There was also variation when comparing offence categories. The three main offence categories for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants finalised were: acts intended to cause injury (43%); public order (12%); and theft (10%). For non-Indigenous defendants, the three main offence categories were: acts intended to cause injury (36%); illicit drugs (16%); and theft (12%).

In the Magistrates' Courts the majority of defendants proven guilty are sentenced to non-custodial orders. When comparing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants with non-Indigenous defendants, the proportions of custodial to non-custodial orders varied in 2009-10. In New South Wales, one third (33%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants proven guilty were sentenced to a custodial order compared to 17% of non-Indigenous defendants (Table 3.11).


Queensland

In the Magistrates' Courts in 2009-10, 18,064 (19%) defendants in Queensland identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

The proportion of males and females varied for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants when compared to non-Indigenous defendants. In Queensland, 31% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants were female compared to 19% of non-Indigenous defendants.

There was also variation when comparing offence categories. In Queensland the three main offence categories for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants were: public order (46%); justice procedures, government security and operations (17%); and acts intended to cause injury (10%). For non-Indigenous defendants the three main offence categories were: public order (28%); illicit drugs (17%); and justice procedures, government security and operations (16%).

When comparing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants with non-Indigenous defendants, the proportions of custodial to non-custodial orders varied in 2009-10. In Queensland 12% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants proven guilty were sentenced to custodial orders compared to 6% of non-Indigenous defendants (Table 3.11).


Northern Territory

In the Magistrates' Courts in 2009-10, 3,855 (69%) defendants in the Northern Territory identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

The proportion of males and females varied for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants when compared to non-Indigenous defendants. In the Northern Territory, 20% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants were female compared to 14% of non-Indigenous defendants.

There was also variation when comparing offence categories. In the Northern Territory the three main offence categories for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants were: acts intended to cause injury (39%); justice procedures, government security and operations (18%); and public order (15%). For non-Indigenous defendants the three main offence categories were: illicit drugs and acts intended to cause injury (both 19%); and justice procedures, government security and operations (14%).

When comparing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants with non-Indigenous defendants, the proportions of custodial to non-custodial orders varied in 2009-10. In the Northern Territory, more than half (52%) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants proven guilty were sentenced to custodial orders compared to 28% of non-Indigenous defendants proven guilty (Table 3.11).


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