Victorian Bill to Strengthen Monitoring of Serious Youth Offenders

Monday 30 July 2018 @ 11.08 a.m. | Crime | Legal Research

The Children, Youth and Families Amendment (Youth Offender Compliance) Bill 2018 (Vic) (‘the Bill’) was introduced by Attorney-General Martin Pakula to the Victorian Legislative Assembly on 25 July 2018.

If the Bill is passed, it will make amendments to current Victorian legislation to impose additional requirements on parole for young offenders who have committed serious offences. The Bill will also require additional reporting and transparency by government departments involved in the parole process, such as the Youth Parole Board.

As summarised by the Explanatory Memorandum of the Bill:

 “This Bill amends the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 [(Vic)] to—

  • require the Youth Parole Board to include in its Annual Report a statement of the purpose of parole and the general principles and factors the Board takes into account when making decisions about parole;
  • make clear the Youth Parole Board's power to impose special conditions on a parole order and validate past decisions of the Youth Parole Board to impose special conditions on parole orders and any decisions made in relation to those conditions;
  • establish a trial of electronic monitoring as a condition on parole orders for certain young people on parole for serious offences;
  • establish a trial of an alcohol and other drug testing regime for youth parolees;
  • require the Secretary to have those trials evaluated and reports presented to the Minister within two years of their commencement and for the Minister to table the evaluation reports in Parliament;
  • repeal the electronic monitoring and alcohol and other drug testing provisions after three years of operation (unless the Parliament determines to continue or vary their operation after consideration of the evaluation report);
  • ensure that Youth Parole Board decisions to transfer a person from a youth justice custodial facility to prison will continue to apply to new custodial sentences imposed on appeal;
  • make clear that family law jurisdiction conferred upon the Children's Court under the Family Law Act 1975 of the Commonwealth would be exercised in the Family Division of the Court, and allow the Children's Court to make rules for the purpose of exercising that jurisdiction; and
  • make some statute law revisions.”

Trial of the monitoring devices and drug tests is scheduled to launch within the first six months of 2019. To this effect, the Federal Government will be extending a budget of over $2 million to Victoria over the next two years to trial the scheme. This funding will be used to set up the infrastructure required as well as the management, analysis and evaluation of the scheme.

Those who will be affected under the Bill are parolees aged 16 and 17 that have been found guilty of a Category A or B serious youth offence. Category A or B youth offences are defined in section 3 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic). These offences include murder, home invasion, carjacking, arson and rape. The Bill will apply to young offenders who were aged 16 or 17 at the time the offence was committed or alleged to be committed. Under the proposed laws, it will be irrelevant whether or not the offence was committed prior to the Bill being enacted.

Comments

Jenny Mikakos, Minister for Families and Children has commented:

“Electronic monitoring will be a continuous reminder to some of our most serious young parolees to comply with their orders.”

However, others such as the Law Institute of Victoria’s Criminal Law Section co-chair Melinda Walker have commented that the use of electronic monitoring on young offenders could be detrimental to the rehabilitation of the parolees. She argues that the introduction of such monitoring is effectively introducing additional punishment into what should be part of their rehabilitation and reintegration into the community. She also suggested that this funding would be put to better use investing in mental health, drug and educational services to reduce future risk of re-offending and assist them in reintegrating into community.

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