A commission looking into the over-representation of Aboriginal children in the Victorian youth detention system will be holding community consultations in Bendigo this week.
Victoria's Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People Justin Mohamed said the Our Youth, Our Way inquiry will speak to support services and young people in Bendigo to find out why the problem is systemic.
"We know that this is an issue right across Victoria, with a lot of young people in the system coming from all of these communities that we're visiting," Mr Mohamed said. "So for us to be able to tackle this, we need to go out to the communities in the regions and on the ground.
"We also want to take a close look at what is happening because maybe from one region to another, the situation could be very different, including the ages, gender, or types of offences that are happening."
About 16 per cent of those in Victoria's youth justice system identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. That is despite Indigenous children making up just 1.6 per cent of the general population aged between 10 and 18.
Mr Mohamed said while he will spend the week in Bendigo speaking with Indigenous community groups, support services, youth justice, and police, the main focus will be on hearing from young Indigenous Australians.
"We want to hear more voices from the people on the ground - including the young people themselves," he said. "That includes the young people who are in the youth justice system but also other young people not in the system.
"We can go to them and find out what makes them strong, how they see the system, and how they see what is working in their community but also what is not working."
The Our Way, Our Youth inquiry would focus on community achievements as well as problems, Mr Mohamed said.
"Bendigo is one of the regions where there are some really positive things happening and this is not just about unpacking what is going wrong," he said. "This is not a witch hunt at all.
"This is about trying to look at communities and saying well there are things that do need to be fixed, but we also want to hear about the things that are working or the good news stories.
"We can get them and collate them because there may be some really good methods that can be shared with the other regions and other parts in the state."
The Commission visited Warnambool and Ballarat last month for regional community forums. Over the coming months, the commission will visit a total of 13 regional centres, including Geelong, Mildura, Bairnsdale and Dandenong.
The regional forums would help inform the way Indigenous community groups and support services work with young people, Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative chief executive Raylene Harradine said.
"I think it's wonderful for our youth in particular because it gives them the voice and the opportunity to say what is working for them and what is not," she said.
"As an adult, it can be hard for us to talk and advocate on behalf of our young people if we don't really know what's working."
The Commission will finish speaking to people and gathering information by the end of the year, before submitting their report to the Victorian parliament in March 2020.
Ms Harradine said she hoped the findings would lead to better results for Indigenous children.
"I was around for Taskforce 1000 - for the kids in out of home care - and we heard a lot of traumatising stories about things that were happening but that's benefited our community," Ms Harradine said.
"I think this inquiry, particularly for our youth justice area, is going to have the same affect.
"So for me, it's timely and to be part of this in this era is just amazing."
The Our Youth, Our Way inquiry will also be accepting community submissions. More information can be found at //ccyp.vic.gov.au/upholding-childrens-rights/systemic-inquiries/our-youth-our-way/make-a-submission/
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