Victorian Government Releases Youth Justice Report Which Finds “System In Crisis”

Monday 7 August 2017 @ 12.15 p.m. | Crime

The Victorian Government has released a lengthy report into the Youth Justice system and has accepted or accepted in principle all 126 of the report’s recommendations.  The report, Meeting needs and reducing offending: Youth Justice review and strategy, was commissioned in mid-2016.  According to the findings laid out in the executive summary, Victoria’s current youth justice system is “a system in crisis”.  The report calls for “bold and innovative” action, and significant structural and cultural reform.

In a media release announcing the release of the report, Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos said:

“This is the first comprehensive review of Victoria’s youth justice system in 17 years. It will help us build a stronger and more effective system – after four years of neglect by the former Liberal Government…

This investment will make our community safer by reducing recidivism, strengthening our facilities and establishing programs that work, delivered by a better equipped workforce.”

Call for a new legislative framework

The report recommends a standalone act for youth justice be created, saying:

“The current legislation, embedded in a child welfare act, does not meet the challenges of a contemporary youth justice system. There is a need for a single, modern and responsive legislative framework for youth justice.”

The report recommends the new Act:

  • provide a clear statement of the purpose, role and principles for Youth Justice;
  • affirm the commitment to do no further harm to Youth Justice clients;
  • maintain custody as an option of last resort;
  • better balance the consideration of offending behaviour and welfare needs;
  • address the rise in remand and the tyranny of short sentences; and
  • ensure protections and transparency, including clearly framed obligations regarding the safety and wellbeing of young offenders.

Recommendations in the report

The report highlights a number of problems within the system, and makes recommendations under them.  These problems include:

  • Lack of purpose, focus and coordination;
  • Commitment to timeliness, certainty and effective interventions;
  • Separation of children by age;
  • Failure to address overrepresentation of Aboriginal children and young people;
  • Lack of balance;
  • Lack of systems leadership and rigour;
  • Limited investment in communitybased early intervention and support;
  • Poor service integration and information sharing; and
  • Behaviour management.

Government response

In the media release, the Victoria Government announces it will make an initial investment of $50 million over four years to respond to 42 priority recommendations, including:

  • A new custodial operating model to better manage young people in custody;
  • Greater workforce capability by providing better training and a targeted recruitment campaign;
  • 21 additional Safety and Emergency Response Team (SERT) staff;
  • A new risk and needs assessment system to reduce the risk of re-offending; and
  • Addressing Aboriginal over-representation by employing an additional Aboriginal Liaison Officer.

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.


Related Articles: