Ken Wyatt voice to parliament indigenous recognition
Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt. (Image: AAP/ROHAN THOMSON)

The Indigenous incarceration rate in Australia is 2,589 prisoners per 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, according to the March figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The male imprisonment rate is 4,682 prisoners per 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult men, and the female imprisonment rate is 523 persons per 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult women.

The average daily imprisonment rate was 223 persons per 100,000 adults, increasing from 218 persons, in the December quarter in 2019.

According to ABS, the Northern Territory continues to have the highest Indigenous imprisonment rate at 971 prisoners per 100,000 adults. Western Australia had the second highest at 351, and the Australian Capital Territory had the lowest at 133. 

Source: ABS

Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults make up around 2% of the Australian population, they constitute 27% of the national prison population.

Indigenous leader Tom Calma has criticised the federal government for the length of time it has taken to reach a decision about reducing incarceration rates. Calma called for a target on Indigenous incarceration rates in 2006, and again in 2016.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt says that a decision is expected to be reached and announced in early July.

The imprisonment rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has increased 12 times faster than the rate for non-Aboriginal people since 1989, according to Creative Spirits.

In December 2019, the Indigenous incarceration rate was 2,536 prisoners per 100,000 adults in the Aboriginal population, compared to 218 prisoners per 100,000 in the non-Aboriginal population.

Read: How many Indigenous deaths in custody have been recorded?