The New South Wales Labor government’s proposed bail law changes have been described as draconian by Indigenous Legal experts.

The changes mean magistrates and judges now need a high degree of confidence that a young person will not re-offend in order to grant bail.

The State’s Attorney General says he was concerned tougher bail laws would mean more young people being locked up, but says the government had no choice.

Earlier this week a coalition of Aboriginal legal services issued a statement criticising the reforms, and called for an alternative strategy that prioritises support over punishment.

They called for a three pronged approach.

– Resources allocated for local communities to support after-school, evening and weekend activities that engage at-risk young people.

– Intensive and targeted programs and responses for at-risk children with appropriate referral services.

– Formal community partnerships between police and Aboriginal controlled services.

Palawa woman and the CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Service for NSW and the ACT Karly Warner says stricter penalties aren’t the answer.

“Changes to bail laws that lock up more children is a short term political stunt, that won’t fix a thing on the ground,” Ms Warner says.

“New South Wales needs more youth engagement and supports because those are the things that are actually going to help.

“We don’t need more short sighted political fixes like this, that will only make communities more dangerous.”

The Minns Labor government also introduced legislation which will criminalise “posting and boasting” where offenders post about their crimes on social media.

The social media crackdown means offenders could receive an additional two years added to their prison sentence if they are found promoting criminal activity on their feeds.

Ms Warner says the law will lead to more Indigenous children staying behind bars.

“The law may be neutral on its face.

“But any suggestion that, of course, this isn’t going to harm Aboriginal kids is laughable, as 50% of kids in custody are Aboriginal in New South Wales.

“These bad policies are going to continue to harm our communities.”

The Minns government also flagged that raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14 isn’t on their agenda.

Ms Warner says the statement is incredibly disappointing.

“We’re pleading with the Premier in New South Wales Labor not to let their government agenda be driven by fear.

“Instead, fast track the community based services and support that they’ve promised and the closing the gap, that our children need.”

 AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts