First Nations adults in NSW prisons at record high

New data shows the number of First Nations adults in NSW prisons reached a record-high in March.
New data shows the number of First Nations adults in NSW prisons reached a record-high in March.

New data shows the number of First Nations adults in NSW prisons reached a record high in March.

Figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) show that First Nations adults represent 30% of the state’s prison population, compared to 3% of the overall population of NSW.

Here’s what you need to know.

NSW Prisons

BOCSAR data shows there were 3,841 First Nations adults incarcerated in NSW prisons in March.

It means First Nations people represent more than 30% of the NSW adult prison population.

Young First Nations people were also significantly overrepresented in youth detention in March, making up 66.4% of total detainees.

First Nations young people represent about 7% of those aged 10-19 in NSW.

First Nations commitments

Federal, state, territory, and local governments have agreed to the ‘Closing the Gap’ targets “to overcome the entrenched inequality” faced by First Nations people.

This includes a target to reduce the rate of First Nations youth detainees by at least 30% by 2031. According to an update published in February, this target is on track.

However, BOCSAR data shows the number of young First Nations people in detention increased by 10% from March 2023 to 2024 in NSW.

“Concerningly, NSW is no longer on track to meet its Close the Gap target to reduce the rate of Aboriginal young people in prison.”

BOCSAR executive director Jackie Fitzgerald

Other findings

Domestic violence offences have reached record highs in NSW, BOCSAR found.

In March, there were more than 3,000 adults in custody for domestic violence offences in NSW. BOCSAR said this was “more than at any previous time” and 34% above 2019 figures.

Sexual assault convictions accounted for more than 20% of adult prison sentences in NSW in March. Sexual assaults also increased among young offenders.

Burglary, theft, and intention to cause injury were the most-frequently committed offences by youth detainees.


A spokesperson for NSW Youth Justice Minister Jihad Dib told TDA: “Placing a young person in custody should always be a last resort [and] intervention is critical”.

A spokesperson for NSW Attorney General Michael Daley said the State Government is “concerned about the over-representation” of First Nations people in custody.”

TDA reached out to the NSW Opposition but did not receive a comment at the time of posting.

13 YARN: 13 92 76

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