Requirements before a youth control order can be made

Requirements before a youth control order can be made

This content is intended as information for lawyers appearing in the Children’s Court with clients who may be placed on a youth control order (YCO). If you are not a lawyer but have been referred to a youth control order planning meeting, you should contact your lawyer, youth justice worker or Children’s Court planning meeting convenor with any questions you may have.

Adjournment to a YCO planning meeting

The process leading to the making of a YCO, includes the court first referring the child to a YCO planning meeting under a new s. 409D. This involves:

  • after a finding of guilt, the magistrate decides that the appropriate sentence would be detention in a youth justice centre or youth residential centre, but that a youth control order might be an alternative
  • the matter is stood down for youth justice (YJ) to conduct a suitability assessment considering:
    • legislative criteria
    • whether or not the young person consents
    • assessment tools (using the 'Risk Needs Responsivity' model raised in the 2017 Armytage Ogloff report)
  • usually on the same day, but possibly after a short adjournment of up to 7 days in some cases, YJ will provide advice about suitability and make recommendations about participants (including a general recommendation to permit the convenor to invite others)
  • whilst it is not mandatory under the legislation, YJ will routinely ask the court to order a pre-sentence report under s. 409(4) for the return date, which will usually be eight weeks away.

The court has set up a toll-free number for any questions about bookings or adojurnments for planning meetings: 1800 531 574.

YCO planning meetings

Planning meetings may be held at different stages of the process:

  • before the making of a YCO to develop a YCO plan: s. 409S(a)
  • after the making of a YCO to review or vary a YCO plan that is in force: s. 409S(b).

Requirements for the meetings are set out in s. 409T which deals with:

  • the meeting being chaired by a convenor (who is an employee of the court based in Melbourne but travelling to where they are needed)
  • the convenor fixing a date for the meeting (this will be about six weeks after the finding of guilt and about a fortnight before the return date, with priority given to young people in custody)
  • who is to attend the meeting (child, child's legal practitioner, youth justice officer, the convenor and others as directed by the court for example, members of the child's family, persons of significance to the child, police officers, child protection workers).

The convenor will spend several weeks preparing for the meeting. This will include:

  • engaging with the young person and family
  • assessing the particular needs of the young person
  • referrals to providers for assessments
  • working with services to identify interventions.

After a preliminary process with the young person and their lawyer taking up to an hour, the planning meeting itself is likely to run for two hours along similar lines to a group conference (although with no police or victim presence) and will involve:

  • Stage 1 – introduction: young person (YP) and their legal representative are brought into the room first
  • Stage 2 – first discussion: YP share hopes and goals to stop offending, YJ makes suggestions, open discussion
  • Stage 3 –​ first break: purpose for convenor to draft conditions as discussed and for YP​ to have quiet time with their legal representative to ensure that they have understood and have not been pressured
  • Stage 4 – second discussion: mandatory conditions ('requirements' under the Act), consolidated conditions, identified gaps
  • Stage 5 – accountability discussion (services are to set out what they can actually provide and when)
  • Stage 6 – second break: convenor will draft the plan, YP will check in with legal representative
  • Stage 7 – review of YCO plan: to be read out in full with open discussion; YP and services to sign plan (team and collaborative approach)
  • Stage 8 – closing: group reflection, advice from the convenor as to what happens next.

Other provisions under the CYFA covering the meetings include:

  • the purpose of the plan (to assist the child take responsibility, reduce the likelihood of reoffending, provide opportunities to the child and provide information to the court): s. 409U
  • confidentiality of meeting (confidential except with the leave of the court or with the consent of all who attended the meeting): s. 409Y.

The return date

On returning to court the following will be available:

  • the convenor's report of meeting: ss. 409V–409X and 409Z
  • the agreed YCO plan
  • the YJ pre-sentence report (which may address reasons why a lesser order might be more appropriate but will also be particularly relevant in the event the court decides not to make a YCO but to order detention instead).

The matters for the court to take into account under s. 362 have been amended by adding a new ss. (4A) akin to the group conferencing provision indicating that a child is not to be sentenced more severely if they do not participate in a YCO planning meeting than had sentencing not been deferred.

More information

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