Victoria Legal Aid

Children need support and connection, not ankle bracelets

We do not support the state government’s plan to trial electronic monitoring of children on bail or its decision to not proceed with further bail reforms for children.

Wednesday 20 March 2024 3:02am

The state government’s announcement of a trial of electronic monitoring for young people released on bail and the decision to not proceed with further bail reforms for children is deeply disappointing, stigmatising, and not supported by evidence.

‘It is a great shame that the government is moving away from carefully considered reforms and is instead trialling an initiative which we know won’t work,’ said Executive Director Criminal Law Dan Nicholson.

We strongly urge the government to instead follow the evidence and to follow through with its commitment to include bail reform in the Youth Justice bill to be introduced to parliament this year.

‘There is no evidence that electronic monitoring programs in other states and overseas have been effective, and some evidence that they are counterproductive. We know that ankle bracelets can make things worse by further stigmatising and alienating children, when what they need is support and connection,’ said Dan.

'These changes will have a disproportionate impact on First Nations children and kids from communities of colour – and will further entrench the systemic racism they are already subjected to.'

Denying children bail and locking them up before their case has been determined should always be the last resort. To keep the community safe, children should be provided with support to stay out of trouble, not be imprisoned or subjected to electronic monitoring.

‘The government should be focusing on funding and expanding programs which reconnect children who are at risk with their families, education, community and healthcare,’ said Dan.

‘There are plenty of examples of individual programs which are very effective at helping kids at risk of coming into contact with the legal system to go on to have healthy and productive lives. These programs must be made readily available to children and young people right across the state.’

This includes programs for First Nations children which are designed, controlled and delivered by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, like the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service’s dedicated service for Aboriginal children, Balit NguluExternal Link . It is only available in a limited number of locations but has been incredibly successful in reducing contact with police and the legal system.

‘These evidence-based initiatives are proven to work in reducing offending. They are the best solution to addressing the harms felt in the community because they identify and address the harms caused to children that are often the reason for their offending,’ said Dan.

These changes come in the context of a sustained scare campaign about youth crime. It’s more important than ever that decisions about young people in our community are informed by evidence of what works.

Along with raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14, supporting children to live happily and healthily and connected to their families and community, is the key to having an inclusive, fair and safe community.

More information

Read about our support for raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14.

Media enquiries

For media enquiries please contact Media, Communications and Engagement Manager Naomi Woodley at or 0409 281 304.

Reviewed 20 March 2024