Monday, September 01, 2014

Indigenous disproportion in both crime and welfare dependence. And an afterthought.

 An article in yesterday's Australian was brought to my attention. About the disproportionate incidence of crime and imprisonment amongst their indigenous population, it's well worth a read:

Far from shrinking, that disproportion, which is already far greater than that for black people in the US, indigenous Canadians and New Zealand Maoris, has been widening, with the ratio of indigenous to non-indigenous imprisonment rates rising 40 per cent since 2001. The gap in imprisonment rates is even larger for women than men, and also growing.
Weatherburn gently demolishes the claim that those outcomes reflect indigenous disempowerment. As he shows, the differences in incarceration rates actually declined after 1900, with the current gap only
emerging in the 1960s.
Nor does Weatherburn’s exhaustive analysis find any evidence that indigenous Australians are treated
more harshly by the justice system than their non-indigenous counterparts. On the contrary, taking
account of the factors courts consider, they are both less likely to be imprisoned, and when imprisoned, receive shorter sentences.
Rather, the rise in imprisonment rates reflects the changes the 60s brought: the equal wage decision in
1965, which accelerated the collapse in indigenous employment in regional areas; the dismantling of
laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol to indigenous Australians; and the explosive increase in welfare

Further to the last phrase is this well-worded observation:

Aggravating the extent and severity of the violence is widespread substance abuse. Even correcting for differences in the age structure of the population, the rate of alcohol-induced deaths for indigenous Australians is 7.5 times the non-indigenous rate. And there is a direct link between drunkenness and crime: indigenous prisoners are nearly three times more likely than non-indigenous offenders to have been intoxicated when they committed their offence. But alcohol abuse is a symptom, not an ultimate cause: a symptom of ready access to cash without any real requirement to work, with that cash being spent on goods such as alcohol and drugs that dull boredom, are consumed in social groups, and can be enjoyed by the barely literate. And once entrenched, the cycle of substance abuse, violence, imprisonment and reoffending perpetuates the labour market exclusion that served to justify the welfare hand-outs in the first place.

And explains the migration from unemployment to disability benefits. More pathways by which welfare dependency creates more welfare dependency.

The article cites an Aboriginal population at 2.5% of total, with 26 percent of the prison population.
- Maori  respectively 15%  and 50%
- US non-Hispanic Blacks 13% and 40%

Apparently, "...nearly half of all adult indigenous Australians are now primarily reliant on welfare". Currently around 28% of Maori rely on a benefit. On an optimistic note,  lower than it's been in the past.

And really, I get sick of writing about Maori. The inter-marriage and inter-mixing between Maori and Pakeha has been huge factor in the recent history of NZ and strikes a substantial contrast with Australia. It's an aspect of NZ I value immensely. The inward conflict  between my strong sense of and advocacy for individualism, but attention to ethnic disparities grows. One day I might start a crusade to stop governments racially classifying people. Perhaps that is a source of oppression in itself?


homepaddock said...

". One day I might start a crusade to stop governments racially classifying people. Perhaps that is a source of oppression in itself?"

I'd join you and we could start with the census which recognises European NZers and Maori but no other NZers.

What does someone born here with parents, grand parents or forbears even further back who came from Asia, Africa or the Americas put?

And while it classifies some NZers as European, people from Europe can be far more specific and put, for example, Dutch.

Berend de Boer said...

Lindsay: "One day I might start a crusade to stop governments racially classifying people."

You can start now. I always refuse to answer the "what race are you" question.

Anonymous said...

this is hardly news.How is 'crime' classified?Crime is legislated.What are the %'s of indigenous people re white collar crimes? Perhaps aboriginal people dont really want to embrace the ausmerican dream!A job at Bunnings,2 kids,a dog and a mortgage may not be for everyone,regardless of mindnumbing conditioning.