Monday 6 February 2017
Following today’s announcement on youth justice from the Victorian Government, the Commission for Children and Young People reiterates the importance of protecting and strengthening a separate, specialist youth justice system.
Reforms to the system must reflect what we know about children who offend – their brains are still developing, their prospect of rehabilitation is higher and the majority are themselves victims of significant trauma, abuse or disadvantage. Community safety will be improved if we respond effectively to these factors.
The youth justice system requires a distinct approach. The Commission is pleased that youth justice remains part of the Families and Children portfolio, reflecting that young people in custody are children first and foremost.
As Commissioners, we look forward to working with the Department of Justice and Regulation to ensure we take this opportunity to build a youth justice model that is humane, age-appropriate and focused on treatment and rehabilitation.
The announcements come as a new Victorian Ombudsman report provides a worrying snapshot of the recent situation in Victoria’s youth justice system.
The report confirms there is reason to be concerned about the treatment of children and young people in those facilities.
Since November 2016, we have increased our monitoring of the conditions of children in each centre, raising issues with government so they may be addressed or improved.
We have visited the Grevillea unit at Barwon Prison regularly, usually twice weekly, since it was commissioned as a youth justice centre. These visits have allowed us to verify improvements made and identify ongoing or new problems.
While there have been substantial improvements at Grevillea, we remain concerned about aspects of children’s management there and at the Parkville and Malmsbury youth justice facilities.
The Commission will continue to monitor all these centres closely.
We appreciate that the current situation presents significant challenges. It is important that we work together to stabilise and rebuild the state's youth justice system, and in doing so, we heed evidence about what works to rehabilitate children.
Liana Buchanan, Commissioner for Children and Young People
Andrew Jackomos, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People
Luis Gonzalez, CCYP Communications and Media Adviser
T: 8601 5293
M: 0425 871 816