Smart Justice coalition unveils new Action Plan

A coalition of Victorian justice, community sector and social advocacy bodies has created a new “action plan” to end the over-representation of particular groups of young people in Victoria’s criminal justice system.

Working Together is a blueprint for sustained collective and coordinated action, and the culmination of two years of research and consensus building amongst Smart Justice For Young People members.

The problem of over-representation (which is linked with over-policing and under-servicing by government agencies) disproportionately affects children and young people from First Nations and multicultural backgrounds, children living in residential care and girls and young women with complex needs.

“We often talk about preventing ‘youth crime’ as if young people are the sole problem,” the Action Plan warns.

“In contrast, [we must focus] on the systems that are not working for these young people and their families.”

“Youth crime prevention is a necessary by-product of this focus.”

The new blueprint acknowledges that no single organisation, law change, policy reform or practice shift will achieve the necessary change — especially when demand for services is ever-increasing and resources are constrained. 

Instead, the Action Plan calls for genuine partnerships across sectors and ‘silos’. It contains 49 broad ‘system level’ recommendations relevant across government, as well as recommendations for six specific portfolio areas, including:

  • Criminal and civil justice systems
  • Policing
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Housing and material needs
  • Children, families and their community
  • Education

VCOSS is the peak body for Victoria’s social and community sector, and the state’s premier social advocacy body.

We work towards a Victoria free from poverty and disadvantage, where every person and community experiences genuine wellbeing.

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VCOSS acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country, and we pay respect to Elders and Ancestors. Our business is conducted on sovereign, unceded Aboriginal land. The VCOSS offices are located on Wurundjeri Woiwurrung land in central Naarm.