Changing the Record of mass incarceration of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children: disability, disadvantage, justice reinvestment and raising the age of criminal responsibility

Ms Roxanne Moore1, Mr Scott Avery2, Ms Tammy Solonec3

1Change The Record Coalition, Adelaide, Australia, 2FPDN, 3Amnesty International

The mass incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people is soaring as Australian governments continue to push “tough on crime” agendas. Children as young as 10 years old are subject to abuse and solitary confinement in harmful youth prisons. Aboriginal women are the fastest growing prison population and most are survivors of violence. Disability, poverty, family violence and homelessness continue to be criminalised instead of governments working with communities to address reasons why people are coming into contact with the so-called justice system. Inquiry after inquiry gathers dust as the numbers of Aboriginal young people in prison skyrockets.

This all-Aboriginal panel focuses on the intersectional injustices facing our young people and the critical changes needed now to end this for good. Further, raising the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years will immediately stop generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids getting stuck in the quicksand of the justice system. Instead of the billions of dollars spent on damaging and ineffective prisons each year, Justice Reinvestment calls for a new approach, led by Aboriginal communities.

The Aboriginal-led Change the Record Coalition seeks to end the overincarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the disproportionate rates of violence experienced by our people, particularly women and children.


Ms Roxanne Moore, Change the Record Coalition (Panel Chair)

Roxanne Moore is a Noongar woman and human rights lawyer from Margaret River in Western Australia. She is currently working as the Principal Advisor to Change the Record Coalition, and also for the National Peak body on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS). Previously,

Roxanne was an Indigenous Rights Campaigner with Amnesty International Australia for three years. Prior to this, Roxanne worked for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission. She has worked as Principal Associate to the Hon Chief Justice Wayne Martin AC QC; as a commercial litigator; and has international experience with UNHCR Jordan and New York University’s Global Justice Clinic. Roxanne studied law at the University of WA, and completed an LLM (International Legal Studies) at NYU, specialising in human rights law, as a 2013 Fulbright Western Australian Scholar.

Ms Tammy Solonec, Amnesty International Australia

Tammy Solonec is a Nigena woman from Derby in the Kimberley of Western Australia (WA), with mixed ancestry. She lived in Perth, the capital city of WA for 26 years while she raised my two children who are now young adults, and now is based in Brisbane in Queensland. Since 2014 Tammy has been the Indigenous Rights Manager at Amnesty International Australia sponsoring the ‘Community Is Everything’ campaign to end the overrepresentation of Indigenous youth in the justice system. Throughout her career, she has been involved in advocating for Indigenous peoples on local, state, national and international levels, including extensive work for NAIDOC Perth, and work at the United Nations. Tammy studied law at the University of WA, and completed her legal qualifications at the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA, where she worked for four years including as Managing Solicitor of the Law and Advocacy Unit. After that she was a Board member of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. Tammy was awarded Young Female Lawyer and Lawyer of the Year for WA in 2012 and in 2017 was inducted in the WA Women’s Hall of Fame for International Women’s Day.

Mr Scott Avery, First Peoples Disability Network

Scott Avery is descendant from the Worimi people and is the Research and Policy Director at the First Peoples Disability Network (Australia), a non-Government Organisation constituted by and for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples with disability. He is undertaking a PhD at UTS on social inclusion and disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and has recently published the book ‘Culture is Inclusion: A narrative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability’ based on this research. He has been awarded a research scholarship by the Lowitja Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, and is an Ambassador for the Mayi Kuwayu study on the value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait IsIander cultures to health and wellbeing.