QLD Assents Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2021
On 25 February 2021, the Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 (Qld) (“the Bill”) was introduced into the Queensland Assembly by Minister for Police and Corrective Services, Mark Ryan. The Bill passed with amendments on 22 April 2021. The Bill received assent on 30 April 2021.
The Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2021 (Qld) (“the Act”) amends the following legislation:
the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld)
the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 (Qld)
the Youth Justice Act 1992 (Qld)
the Bail Act 1980 (Qld)
About the Inquiry Process
The amendments were the result of an inquiry by the Legal Affairs and Safety Committee (“the Committee”) (see Report No. 7, 57th Parliament Legal Affairs and Safety Committee). The Committee invited stakeholders and subscribers to make written submissions on the Bill. Some 83 submissions were received with the Committee also receiving a public briefing about the Bill from the Queensland Police Service and the Department of Children, Youth Justice, and Multicultural Affairs.
Objective of the Legislation
As outlined in the Bill’s explanatory notes, during March 2020 the Queensland Government announced the Five Point Action Plan (“the 5PP”) to complement the Working Together Changing the Story: Youth Justice Strategy 2019-2023 report. The 5PP focuses on a specific cohort of offenders which account for 10 per cent of all youth offenders, with 390 individuals accounting for 48 per cent of all youth crime. The Act enacts a suite of amendments to the Youth Justice Act 1999 (Qld) that build on the 5PP.
In response to an increase in knife crime and hooning offences, the legislation also enacts a range of amendments to the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 (Qld).
According to the EN, the key objective of the amendments:
“… are to respond to the characteristics of the offending behaviours of serious recidivist youth offenders and strengthen the youth justice bail framework. These behaviours place both the community and youth offenders at risk of serious harm or death”.
The Act also provides for a trial of GPS monitoring devices, strengthened anti-hooning laws, increased police powers and reversing the presumption of bail for serious indictable offences.
The Act also amends the following QLD legislation:
Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) - amendment of s 179K in regards to giving details of impact of crime on victim during sentencing;
Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 (Qld) – a significant amendment including the insertion of new Part 3A to Chapter 2 in regards to the use of hand held scanners without warrant in public places in prescribed areas as well as insertion of a new Part 22 into Chapter 24 in regards to transitional provisions;
The Youth Justice Act 1992 (Qld) and Bail Act 1980 (Qld) also have extensive and miscellaneous amendments proposed.
Government Comment and Reaction
The Minister for Police and Corrective Services said in his second reading speech:
“The government has moved swiftly and decisively in response to the continued risk posed to our community by a cohort of serious and persistent youth offenders. The data shows that around 90 per cent of youth offenders do not repeatedly offend, with many not reoffending after their first interaction with police … This bill contains significant reforms that will enhance community safety and the outcomes for young people.”
Speaking to the National Indigenous Times, Minister for Youth Justice, Leanne Linard said:
“Community safety has always been a priority for the Government, that is why we have continued to provide record funding for youth justice reform. ”
Public Comment on the Legislation
In a joint Media Release on 10 February 2021, the Queensland Council of Social Service CEO Aimee McVeigh commented:
“The only way to reduce youth crime is to put in place the supports and programs that address the underlying issues faced by these children. The correct approach requires time, money and commitment. There are no shortcuts. The Government commenced this process with the implementation of the Atkinson Report, and they should continue with that strategy without these changes.”
Amnesty International said in their submission on the Bill:
“Amnesty International is strongly opposed to the Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 (Qld). The bill will result in more children and young people being held in police watch houses and sentenced to prison … Amnesty International recommends that the Legal Affairs and Safety Committee rejects the Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 (Qld)”.
The Australian Association of Social Workers (“the AASW”) submitted:
“In summary, the AASW strongly opposes Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021. The proposed legislative changes contradict the 2018 Atkinson Report on Youth Justice which the government committed to … A punitive approach that punishes all young people is not in the best interest of young people, their families, and the public”.
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Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 [QLD] – Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase LawOne Service