ARC Justice, Commissioner for Children and Young People respond to youth justice review

TALKING JUSTICE: Premier Daniel Andrews responds to concerns about Victoria's justice system while in Bendigo. Picture: DARREN HOWE
TALKING JUSTICE: Premier Daniel Andrews responds to concerns about Victoria's justice system while in Bendigo. Picture: DARREN HOWE

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ASKED to respond to reproaches about Victoria’s justice system, Premier Daniel Andrews told the Bendigo Advertiser there would always be criticism, one way or the other.

“They key point is to listen, and to make sure that you’re hearing the messages the community gives you,” Mr Andrews said.

Two days later, former Secretary of the Department of Justice and Regulation, Penny Armytage, and Swinburne University Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science director, Professor James Ogloff, delivered a message.

The youth justice system was facing significant challenges, and was in need of reform.

The Youth Justice Review and Strategy identified shortcomings in the legislative framework, the operating model, the available resources, and the responsiveness of the existing system.

The independent review – the first in more than 16 years – highlighted a failure to address the over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people.

ARC Justice executive officer Hayley Mansfield welcomed recommendations to increase early intervention supports. 

“Just one per cent of youth justice investment is allocated to early intervention programs, with the vast majority of youth justice expenditure focused on the acute end of the system such as custodial and community based supervision,” she said. 

“We want to see this significantly change, with substantially more investment towards early intervention.”

Commissioner for Children and Young People, Liana Buchanan, said the report laid bare the extent in which the youth justice system had been failing children and the broader community.

“If its recommendations are funded and implemented in full, there is no question we will see improved youth justice services,” she said.

She commended the state government on its response to the review, which was commissioned about a year ago to assist with youth justice reforms.

The state government has accepted, or accepted in principle, all 126 of the review’s recommendations.

It has allocated $50 million to address 42 of the review recommendations.

Work on another 63 is already underway.

“This investment will make our community safer by reducing recidivism, strengthening our facilities and establishing programs that work, delivered by a better equipped workforce,” Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos said.

While in Bendigo, Mr Andrews was hopeful laws concerning a “tougher approach” to bail and violent crime would pass when they would pass through Victorian Parliament later this year. 

“My job, and the job of my team, is to give the Chief Commissioner, Graham Ashton, the powers that he needs, and we’ve done that, and we’re in the process of doing it,” he said.