Justice at centre stage

Throwing more light on tackling legal issues led the sessions at Ulumbarra Theatre for Talking Justice over the weekend.

Talking Justice is a Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre initiative that aims to create an environment for central Victorians to gather to share and discuss social justice issues.

Victoria's Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People Liana Buchanan spoke at the first session on Saturday about youth justice.

Ms Buchanan said she was always impressed with the program Talking Justice organisers assembled.

“I came two years ago as a punter. There is always a mix of some better-known speakers and lesser-known speakers on really relevant topics,” she said.

“The program they pulled together (for this year) is again a really great one.

“The topic on indigenous issues and justice is interesting as is the topic on gender diversity.”

Ms Buchanan’s topic of youth justice and the issues around treating young criminals as adults was in the spotlight on Saturday.

“It is good to have a more rounded discussion,” she said.

“(The youth justice discussion) is not about pretending there's not serious offending by young people and that we need to take that seriously. It is about recognising that it’s not about blaming the children and these young people.

“We have to look at the systems they have had contact with, their experiences before they get into custody and we have to look at what's going wrong in the system.”

Ms Buchanan said the ultimate test of a solution to issues in the youth justice system would be creating a system that is effective.

“We need a system that doesn't damage (young offenders) further and compound them to offend,” she said.

“It’s not about providing a soft system, but a system that is really effective. (A system) where issues are properly assessed and addressed so that when they come out the youth is better off and communities are better off because young people are less likely to re-offend.”