Media Release: 2 August 2016

Examination of racial bias in system needed

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) joins the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association (AIPA) and people around Australia to express our dismay at the dehumanising abuse and torture of Aboriginal children and youth in detention.

Australia's Indigenous youth deserve to feel safe and to be accorded the same human rights and protection as Australians would expect for all Australian youth. The shocking overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth in detention must stop, and their well-being, growth and resilience must be assured.

The APS and AIPA welcome the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's announcement of a Royal Commission into child protection and youth detention and agree with other organisations’ calls for the investigation to be independent and broader in scope.  Professor Pat Dudgeon, Deputy Chair of AIPA and co-Chair of the APS Indigenous Psychology Advisory Group, said, "I hope that the investigation will address the institutionalised racism underlying these detention practices. We need justice reinvestment.”

APS President and co-Chair of the APS Indigenous Psychology Advisory Group Professor Mike Kyrios said, "As the peak body for psychology in Australia, the APS has a longstanding commitment to human rights and strongly objects to torture and inhumane treatment (www.psychology.org.au/community/public-interest/torture/).” He also said that “a non-discriminatory and culturally safe collaborative approach with the best of psychological knowledge should be used to manage difficulties that are encountered with all youth in detention.”

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Notes to editors:

For more information, or to arrange an interview call Rebecca Matthews on 03 8662 3358 or 0435 896 444, or email media@psychology.org.au.  Find the APS Media team on Twitter:  @AustPsych.

The APS is the largest professional organisation for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 22,000 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to people’s lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.