Smart Justice for Young People news, useful resources and other youth justice tidbits.

Events, news & resources

Free forum: starting the Victorian youth justice reinvestment converstation

The Centre for Rural Regional Law and Justice, Deakin University and SJ4YP invite you to join the panel of speakers for an introductory exploration of youth justice reinvestment, investigating its potential application and benefits for Victorian communities, being held on 24th June 2015, 10.30am to 12.30pm . You can either attend at Melbourne CBD, at one of 11 regional sites or login to the session at one of 11 sites or login to the session at your deskTo find out more and to book.

Police Accountability forum

The Police Accountability Project presents a day of professional development training for law practitioners, community & youth workers. A practical and participatory practice forum to examine and improve responses to complaints about police behaviour. Friday, 10 July 2015 9.00am to 5.30pm, Kensington Town Hall, 30-34 Bellair St, Kensington, Victoria, Lunch, morning & afternoon tea provided. Places are limited.  Bookings are  essential: click here to book.

Change the Record: National Campaign

National Justice Coalition, a group of leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, human rights and community organisations, has recently launched the campaign  Change the record campaign which is focused on reducing the over representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the criminal justice system
To Change the Record, we need to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to invest in holistic early intervention, prevention and diversion strategies. These are smarter, evidence based and more cost-effective solutions that increase safety, address the root causes of violence against women and children, cut reoffending and imprisonment rates, and build stronger communities.” 

Welcoming the new Children's Court President

SF4YP welcomes and looks forward to working with Judge Amanda Chambers as the newly appointed President of the Children's Court.
We also extend our thanks to Judge Peter Couzens for being a champion for vulnerable children during his presidency.

New data on re-offending
The research report  by the Sentencing Advisory Council examined the reoffending patterns for 63,366 people sentenced in Victoria’s criminal courts (both adult and children’s) between July 2004 and June 2014. Results included:
-  time of their first offence, and just over a quarter (26%) were aged 21 or younger
-  offenders aged 10 to 17 years had a higher reoffending rate (64%) than older offenders

and more for stats- lovers
-  Youth Justice in Australia  (2013-14) from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
-  Latest crimes statistics from Crimes Statistics Agency 
                                  June 2015
High numbers of children in remand: a reminder of the need for diversion  
The recently retired President of the Children's Court, Judge Couzens has raised concerns about alarming increase in the number of un-sentenced children admitted into remand, highlighted by a 57% increase between 2013-14 and 2014-5.

In large part this increase is being attributed to the amendments to the Bail Act 1977 from December 2013, which included the introduction of a new offence to contravene a condition of bail.

The increase reminds us that despite a strong culture in favour of diversion across the youth justice system, Victoria still has insufficient legislative protections to ensure that children are diverted away from the criminal justice system and not unnecessarily remanded.

As pointed out by Judge Couzens the Bail Act does not distinguish been adults and children, and needs to be amended to exclude children from the show cause provisions and have a child specific criteria added, similar to what is found in the sentencing provisions of the Children's Youth and Families Act.

This issue was the focus of a Ministerial Youth Justice Roundtable held in early June and arranged by Jenny Mikakos, Minister of Children and Families.  The Minister heard a range of perspectives on and recommendations to address the issue.

SJ4YP forms justice reinvestment working group

SJ4YP has formed a working group to consider the best way to promote justice reinvestment and build and present the case for Government to commit to a justice reinvestment approach to addressing youth offending.
The first meeting was held on 20th May. Anyone interested in finding out more and joining the group should contact Tiffany Overall on 03 9611 2422.


Children's Court Youth Diversion Pilot commences

The 12 month pilot was kicked started at the beginning of this month.
The program providers are Jesuit Social Services and YSAS in the metro courts of Dandenong, Broadmeadows, Sunshine and Werribee. JSS is the sole provider in rural court of  Ballarat and satellite courts of Ararat and Stawell
Assessment for diversion will take place at court, with tailored diversion plans possibly involving an apology, anger management  program, or  case management (up to 12 to 14 weeks).
Magistrates, not just police prosecution, may recommend young people for the pilot.

Adult diversion applies in kids court

Victoria Police has received legal advice that the legal provision that allows adjournments of matters to allow adults to undertake diversion in the Magistrates' Court, also applies in the Children’s Court.
Adopting this advice, Victoria Police have developed policy and guidelines, issued to police prosecution not to withhold consent to diversion unless there are exceptional circumstances.
While it is still preferable to embed diversion in the Children's Youth and Families Act , in the interim we can call on this advice/guideline. Legal advocates are encouraged to be creative in putting diversion options to Magistrates.

Report on Protective Service Officers

Tracking Protection Service Officers:Insights from the First Three Years  details the Findings of Your Rights on Track a community legal project undertaken by the Federation of CLCs from 2012-15.
The report documents cases of PSOs exceeding their powers by demanding personal information from commuters without legal justification , where no offence has been committed, forcibly searching commuters who do not comply, using excessive force in a range of circumstances, and excessive fining of vulnerable people.

Among the recommendations in the report are the removal of firearms from PSOs, requiring PSOs to request personal information only when legally justified, better public reporting and independent monitoring of use of force by PSOs and of the fines they issue, and greater flexibility for Victoria Police to deploy PSOs where they are most needed, rather than deploying them on every station, including those where little or no crime occurs.
The Federation has referred its report to the Office of Victorian Auditor-General, which is currently undertaking an audit of public safety on Victoria’s train system.


Victoria Police receipting pilot

Victoria Police has begun a stop and search receipting trial in Moonee Valley and City of Greater Dandenong LGAs. The receipting trial is part of  the 3 year action plan to address community concerns about racial profiling.  The trial goes until the end of this year.  Police and PSOs from the two LGAs will give receipts to people they stop, talk and get details (name and address) from, but do not fine, arrest or give a summons to. 

Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre and Springvale Monash Legal Service are working together on StopWatch Vic, a project to inform the public about the receipting trial and their rights when approached by the police or PSOs, and  independently monitor the outcomes of the trial.  

The project has factsheets for workers and young people,  workshops and additional info about the receipting trial and how people can report a stop.  

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