Appropriate interventions for children and young people

Appropriate interventions for children and young people

It is important to ensure that the legal system has tailored support and interventions for children and young people, due to the vulnerability and special needs of this group. Ensuring children are provided with therapeutic and diversionary support is critical to reducing the likelihood of legal problems into adulthood.

We have significant practice experience and expertise relating to children’s experience of the criminal justice and child protection systems, which informs our advice to government and reviewing bodies about the development of policy and implementation of programs in these areas.

Justice and law reform activities

Child Protection Permanency Amendments Inquiry

Victoria Legal Aid made a submission to the Commission for Children and Young People’s inquiry into child protection law changes that came into effect in March 2016. The changes sought to ensure that decisions about the care of vulnerable children are made in a timely way, and promote permanency of care arrangements.

Our submission says that the amendments are not having the intended impact. We recommend a range of changes, to focus on early access to supports and services, particularly in regional Victoria, and to remove fetters on the legal system’s ability to act in children’s best interests.

Read our Submission to the Child Protection Permanency Amendments Inquiry (docx, 2.56 MB).

Improving the justice system for families with complex needs

In 2015 we made two submissions to the Family Law Council about families with complex needs.

Read about our recommendations to improve the justice system.

Parliamentary inquiry into proposed changes to child protection laws

In our submission made in June 2015, we recommend the passage of the Children, Youth and Families Amendment (Restrictions on the Making of Protection Orders) Bill 2015. We believe the Bill retains requirements that, before a protection order is made, the Children’s Court be satisfied all reasonable steps have been taken by the Department of Health and Human Services to provide services in the best interests of a child. We also make a number of recommendations to further amendments to the Children’s, Youth and Families Act 2005. Where appropriate and in the best interests of the child, these amendments aim to remove unnecessary impediments to family reunification.

Read Submission to parliamentary inquiry into proposed changes to child protection laws (doc, 305.5 KB).

Parliamentary inquiry into sexting

In our submission made in July 2012, we recommended a two-pronged response to sexting:

  • to deliver education to foster respectful relationships between young people and to improve awareness of the legal implications of sexting
  • to deliver law reform to mitigate the unintended consequences of sexual offence laws.

Read Submission to the Parliament of Victoria Law Reform Committee Inquiry into Sexting (doc, 312.5 KB).

The final Inquiry into sexting: report and response was tabled in May 2013.

Submission on improving youth diversion for young people

In our submission made in September 2012, we highlight the benefits of adopting therapeutic and diversionary approaches to youth offending in lowering recidivism rates.

Read Submission on discussion paper on improving diversion for young people in Victoria (Department of Justice) (doc, 326 KB).

Protecting Victoria's vulnerable children

In our submission made in July 2011 and in oral evidence to the inquiry, we made a number of recommendations to improve the child protection system, with a greater focus on early intervention and minimising unnecessary distress for children.

Read Submission to the Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry (doc, 368 KB).

The final Report of the Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry was tabled in February 2012.