Queensland Government announces youth justice reforms
The Palaszczuk Government has moved to deliver on its election commitment to repeal amendments to youth justice legislation that have proven to be ineffective, misguided and counter-productive.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath today introduced a Bill to the Queensland Parliament that will repeal previous amendments to the Youth Justice Act 1992 and Childrens Court Act 1992.
“The Government is committed to tackling youth offending with practical and meaningful strategies – to turn the lives of young people around, stop repeat offending and help build stronger communities,” Mrs D’Ath said.
She said the amendments will reinstate the principle of detention as a last resort, and remove the provisions that allow for the identification of young offenders and for childhood offences to be admitted in adult sentencing proceedings.
“Punitive responses to childhood offending only increase the risk that these young people will reoffend in the future,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“In fact, the changes implemented by the previous government have increased the numbers of young people returning to detention.
“All the evidence shows that offering sustainable pathways to divert children and young people from a lifetime of offending is the only approach that actually works.”
Mrs D’Ath said the Bill will be followed by the introduction of further amendments in early 2016, which will deliver in full on the Palaszczuk Government’s election commitments to end the automatic transfer of 17-year-olds with more than six months remaining in detention to an adult prison, and reinstate the youth justice conferencing program that was removed by the Newman Government in 2012.
“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to reducing youth crime and holds the safety of the community as its highest priority,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“It is essential that we respond to the small number of children and young people who commit offences with the specialised response that they need.
“That is why we are tackling this issue with practical, evidence-based policy that draws on the experience of jurisdictions across Australia and internationally.
“Policies such as the re-introduction of youth justice conferencing, for example, allows young offenders to face up to the harm they have caused and take positive steps towards rehabilitation and long-term development.”
Mrs D’Ath said the suite of legislative amendments will be complemented by the development of a comprehensive youth justice policy, which will guide reform of the youth justice system across government, the non-government sector and the wider community.
“The policy will include strategies to intervene at critical points during a young person’s contact with the criminal justice system, to ensure young offenders make a successful and positive transition to a life without crime,” she said.