Submission to Inquiry into Youth Justice Centres

Submission to Inquiry into Youth Justice Centres

Friday, 17 March 2017

We strongly believe that the way children and young people are treated in the criminal justice system can positively or negatively affect their rehabilitation.

This belief and our lawyers’ first-hand experiences have informed our recent submission to the Parliament of Victoria’s Inquiry into Youth Justice Centres in Victoria.

In our submission we make 18 recommendations. They are aimed at reducing the number of young people on remand and improving youth justice centres to better facilitate rehabilitation, which ultimately helps to improve community safety and protection.

Summary of our recommendations

In summary, we recommend in our submission:

  • safe and secure detention centres that promote rehabilitation to meet the needs of children and young people, with low and high security options
  • strong education programs in youth detention centres
  • legislated and properly funded state-wide diversion, improving on the current fragmented pilot approach
  • increased supports for young people on bail
  • increased investment in and focus on early intervention
  • strengthening restorative models of justice, such as group conferencing.

Read Submission to Parliamentary Inquiry on Youth Justice Centres in Victoria (docx, 204.12 KB)

Our submission highlights the vulnerabilities of children and young people, their differences to adults, and the need to respond to them in different ways that focus on their rehabilitation.

This requires greater investment in specialist, therapeutic and welfare-based approaches as a way of keeping them out of the criminal justice system, and providing more effective supports to them while in detention and post-release.

Most modern justice systems aim to achieve this.

Our submission also aligns with our strategic advocacy priorities, specifically our focus on appropriate interventions for children and young people in the justice system, and consistent access to diversionary and support services state-wide.

How appropriate support services can help – case example

Josh (not his real name) was 17 when he committed a number of offences, primarily burglaries in the presence of other young people. He had no prior criminal history and was referred to us when he was an inpatient at a youth health facility. He had a new diagnosis of schizophrenia, an ice problem and no family support.

The prosecution ultimately agreed to diversion in relation to the charges. The diversion plan was extensive and structured. Importantly, it allowed for extra supports around mental health treatment which was at the heart of the issues Josh was experiencing.

Josh successfully completed the diversion plan over approximately six months. It meant that he was able to get the support he needed to address the underlying reasons for his offending, and to move on in life without the stigma that can come with a criminal history.

Read our submission

Read our Submission to Parliamentary Inquiry on Youth Justice Centres in Victoria (docx, 204.12 KB)

Read other submissions we have made on appropriate interventions for children and young people.