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Golden opportunity to reset the youth justice. . .

6 March 2018
Golden opportunity to reset the youth justice debate

A new report into youth justice presents a golden opportunity to reset Victoria’s toxic law-and-order political debate, according to the state’s peak social advocacy body.

The cross-party parliamentary report, released today:

  • RECOGNISED the clear link between disadvantage and offending, and called for a focus on ‘upstream’ solutions like increasing support for children leaving from out-of-home care.
  • ACKNOWLEDGED the damage ‘tough-on-crime’ rhetoric does to young people and justice.
  • QUESTIONED the effectiveness of insecure short-term and pilot funding for diversion programs.
  • HIGHLIGHTED the need for the youth justice workforce to be well-trained and supported, and to comprise people of different ages, genders and cultural backgrounds.

Victorian Council of Social Service CEO Emma King said almost everybody agrees our youth justice system is broken, and it’s time to start listening to the experts.

“Victoria has a clear choice. We can be punitive or we can be effective—but we can’t be both.”

“Victorians need to decide if we’re going to keep throwing kids into the quicksand of the criminal justice system, or if we’re going to support them better.”

As the reported noted, young people caught up in the justice system are likely to have already experienced significant disadvantage. Aboriginal children and those with intellectual disabilities in particular are dramatically over-represented.

“These are the children we—as a society—have failed or forgotten.”

VCOSS is calling for a fresh approach to youth justice in Victoria.

“The Victorian Government should develop a long-term plan to close the state’s child prisons, and build a truly effective, modern and therapeutic youth justice system.”

“This new system must be evidence-based, and centred around community interventions and rehabilitation, including diversion, police cautioning and intensive support programs.”

Ms King said it’s time for Victorians policymakers to embrace what actually works.

“If there’s to be a law-and-order policy auction this year, it should be about which party can be the smartest and most effective, not who can be the cruellest and most punitive.”


For more information, or to arrange an interview with Emma King
please contact Ryan Sheales on 0418 127 153

Follow the conversation at www.twitter.com/vcoss

Level 8, 128 Exhibition Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
T: 03 9235 1000 F: 03 9654 5749 W: http://www.vcoss.org.au E: vcoss@vcoss.org.au