A sociological study of Indigenous adolescent offending in Queensland
thesisposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Vincent Skinner
The aim of this thesis is to achieve a better understanding of Indigenous adolescent offending in Queensland. Although much has been written on this topic, there has been no research into patterns of Indigenous adolescent offending across urban, rural and remote areas in Queensland, or anywhere else in Australia. Similarly, no studies have compared a wide range of demographic, social, economic and cultural factors with rates of Indigenous adolescent offences. This study shows that there are discernible differences in rates and patterns of Indigenous adolescent offences across different geographical areas of Queensland. The similarities and differences are explained using a sociological perspective, with particular emphasis on the work of Jock Young. The study is based on offence data supplied by the Queensland Police Service for 110 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Queensland for the period from 1 July 2005 to 30 June 2007. The LGAs were further categorised according to geographical and social characteristics, resulting in 27 ‘urban’, 49 ‘rural’, 19 ‘Aboriginal’, and 15 ‘Island’ councils or LGAs. After an initial comparison of Indigenous and non-Indigenous adolescent offending to put the study in context, Indigenous adolescent offending in the four categories of LGA was analysed according to the sex of the offender, the age of the offender, the type of offence committed, and the type of police action taken against the offender. Following on from this examination of rates and patterns of offending, correlation and regression analyses were used to elucidate relationships between Indigenous adolescent offending and various social, economic and cultural variables. The study found that rates and patterns of Indigenous adolescent offences varied greatly among the four categories of LGA, with offending being most pronounced in Aboriginal councils and least in Island councils. This pattern persisted when offending was analysed according to age, sex, type of offence, and type of police action. Nevertheless, a sociological interpretation of the results suggests that particular forms of structural exclusion and relative deprivation associated with Indigeneity underlie the high rates of Indigenous adolescent offences in Queensland, although they manifest in different ways depending on the type of Indigenous community. Following on from this, it is argued that socioeconomic status alone cannot account for the high overrepresentation of Indigenous adolescents in the Queensland criminal justice system. Despite the importance of the underlying factors mentioned above, the differences between Indigenous communities and the variations in rates and patterns of offending mean that the approaches taken to address this problem must be tailored to suit each community.