Community safety undermined by youth justice realignment Justice and Human Rights

Community safety undermined by youth justice realignment

Changes to the youth justice system announced today are a retrograde step that will not improve community safety, the Victorian Council of Social Service has warned.

Responsibility for youth justice will shift from the Department of Human Services to the Department of Justice, which already manages the state’s adult jails. A large youth prison will also be built in Melbourne’s west.

VCOSS CEO Emma King said the changes go against all the available evidence.

“The goal of the youth justice system should be rehabilitating offenders and enhancing community safety, not locking up young people and increasing the likelihood they’ll reoffend.”

“Youth detention should be the last resort, not the first response.”

“We recognise there is legitimate community concern about a small number of youths committing offences and that meaningful action is required.”

“However, Victoria is not in the grip of a youth crime wave. The number of young people committing offences across the state is actually decreasing.”

“Any response to current community unrest must be proportionate and tailored.”

“So-called ‘tough on crime’ measures that punish everybody in the youth justice system are counterproductive. They won’t make us any safer.”

“The Victorian Government needs to be tough on the causes of crime,” Ms King said.



Further reading:

‘Age-appropriate rehabilitation must remain the focus for youth justice reform’, Melbourne City Mission

‘Moving youth justice to adult corrections the wrong approach’, Human Rights Law Centre.

‘Transfer of youth justice to Department of Justice counter-productive to community safety’, Jesuit Social Service.

‘Fears the adult corrections system will ‘train young people in crime’Youth Affairs Council of Victoria.

‘Youth justice fix must be rehabilitative and age appropriate’Smart Justice for Young People.