Background

There are currently 130 Aboriginal people under guardianship in the Central Desert region of Australia with 60 applications waiting to be processed. 

There is a small group of about 12-14 Aboriginal persons who are beyond the reach of the few existing services because they are considered a significant risk of serious harm to others and whose behaviours bring them into contact with the criminal justice system. 

There are currently nine people subject to Part IIA (NT Criminal Code: Mental Impairment/Unfit to Plead) in both Alice Springs and Darwin.

There is also a group of people who are recidivist offenders constantly coming into contact with the criminal justice system, who show behaviours of concern and who are not receiving appropriate levels of support needed to manage them in a least restrictive manner.

There is a third group of people who are showing behaviours of concern that if left unsupported would move into the above two groups.

In Australia, the majority of states and territories, other than the Northern Territory, have specific funded accommodation, support and treatment programs targeting people with cognitive impairments who are a significant risk of serious risk of harm to others or who show behaviours that bring them into contact with the criminal justice system. 

While these programs and agencies vary in quality and resourcing, they have specific responsibility for ensuring that this group of people receives supports and interventions rather than punishment. In Australia, detention on the basis of risk to others is called civil detention. A key human rights issue involved in civil detention for those people with cognitive impairments is that such detention needs to be treatment rather than punishment focused.

Further Reading