Smart Justice for Young People: youth justice updates

Events & research

Upcoming SJ4YP meetings

Our first general meeting for 2016 is   scheduled for 10.30am- 12.30, Tuesday 12th April 2016  at Ashurst  Level 26, 181 William Street, Melbourne

This will be a great chance to catch up on what's been happening in the youth justice space generally and in member's work specifically.

Tiffany will provide an update on the justice reinvestment project and how members can get involved.

Please email Tiffany on if you would like to attend or phone in.

Smart Justice Symposium
Just to give you the heads up that Smart Justice will be holding a symposium in late April (date tbc) on the topic "Downsizing prison through prevention and rehabilitation".

Reintegration Puzzle Conference 20- 22nd June 2016
This year the conference at Deakin University in Geelong, will focus on people who have a disability in the prison system and how individualised supports, both within and outside prison, can reduce their high recidivism rates.
Early bird registrations are now open.

New Government programs
Koori Youth Support Service
Recently the Victorian Government announced $1.2 million over four years to bolster Aboriginal Youth Support Services in areas of the state with high numbers of Aboriginal young people on youth justice orders.

Research and reports

Youth Justice - Report on Government Services 2016  
The recently released report  finds that nationally the daily average detention rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 10-17 years is  24 times the rate for non-Indigenous young people .

Young people receiving child protection services & under youth justice supervision
The AIHW  report finds that young people who were the subject of care and protection orders in 2013-14 were 23 times as likely as the general population to be under youth justice supervision (either in detention or under community-based supervision) at some time in that year (although not necessarily at the same time).

Other  advocacy

"Home Stretch"
The Home Stretch campaign, lead by Anglicare Victoria, will advocate to the state and the Federal Government to extend the leaving care age to 21 years, allowing the option for a young person to remain in a care placement until then.

Anglicare is seeking your support to sign up to a coalition of concerned organisations, institutions, businesses, care leavers, carers, community groups and other stakeholders. To be a part of this call for change, please email

                     February 2016

New Vic justice reinvestment project takes shape
In October 2015 SJ4YP started a project, funded for 2.5 years by the Victorian Legal Services Board, called Building the case for youth justice reinvestment. 

What we have been doing so far…
  • Surveyed sixty SJ4YP members & other stakeholders regarding their understanding,  interest  & engagement in justice reinvestment,
  • Interviewed twenty other key stakeholders (mainly advisors and bureaucrats) about their awareness and support for justice reinvestment,
  • Scoping  and documenting  justice reinvestment campaigns, research and pilots across Australia, and
  • Scoping and mapping Victorian initiatives that are “justice reinvestment like”.
What we have learnt so far…
There are many keen followers of justice reinvestment, but most feel others from their workplaces and communities know little about justice reinvestment.  So it would seem there is a strong need to build up capacity and support local advocates and allies.

On the whole government finds the language of justice reinvestment problematic and unhelpful. Some feel the term feeds into the political “law & order” debate, and could be perceived as going “soft on crime”.  

There is however significant support by in Victorian government of justice reinvestment principles, especially the importance of early intervention and prevention. 

So the project is defining justice reinvestment as an effective alternative approach to crime prevention, involving spending more on intervening early and at critical life points, particularly for vulnerable and at-risk young people, to stop crime in the first place and overtime spend less money on tertiary justice services and prisons. 
So rather than using the term "justice reinvestment", the project will focus on and promote the principles underpinning justice reinvestment , including:
  • a primary focus on early intervention, prevention and diversion,
  • integrated cross-government commitment and investment,
  • localised or placed-based and community focused and led,
  • address multiple drivers of crime, including economic and social disadvantage and risk factors,
  • priorities are data driven and community informed, especially in communities where this is a high risk of children and young people becoming engaged in or re-engaging with the criminal justice system, & 
  • primary voice of family and children and young people affected
Justice reinvestment like initiatives
There is significant work going on in Victorian communities and Government: demonstrations to various degrees of justice reinvestment principles. The project should build on the good outcomes and learnings of these initiatives.
There is significant current investment by the Victorian Government in related strategies and programs, including Roadmap to Reform (Children and Youth Area Partnerships),
Aboriginal Justice Agreement  (Community Grant Projects), Regional Partnerships, Education State  (Lookout Education Support Centres, Navigator and Learning Place), and Community Crime Prevention (Communities that Care & Place based targeted grants).

Arguably these cross-government strategies provide significant opportunity for the project to drive change and embed justice reinvestment in policy and practice.

In year one of the project we will profile and demonstrate “justice reinvestment like” community practice.  Specifically we hope to set up a panel to help us co-convene some dialogue forums to bring together those practicing in this space, mapping various programs, telling the story of various community-driven justice reinvestment like initiatives, sharing their impetus, benefits, outcomes and learnings, and linking them back to justice or crime prevention outcomes.

We will also
partner with a few community “justice reinvestment like” case study sites and document what is happening in these sites in a way which can assist with high level advocacy to build the business case to Government to show how justice reinvestment can be applied in Victoria long term.

Changes to Bail Act to help at risk children                         

Members of SJ4YP have been voicing concerns about the sharp increase in number of children held on remand, since the introduction of the offence of breach of bail conditions, back in December  2013.

Taking on these concerns the Andrews Government's Bail Amendment Bill was passed in Parliament on 11th February and makes some positive changes that relate to children being::
- a new provision with child specific factors that address the particular needs of children to be considered in bail decisions; and

- children being exempt from the breach of bail condition offence ; and
- the inclusion of a presumption in favour of initiating criminal proceedings against children by summons, rather than arrest, to align with Victoria Police best practice.


These changes will make a difference to children who are at risk of entering our youth justice system.

SJ4YP thanks Minister Mikakos and the Attorney General Pakula for their leadership and commitment to introducing and seeing these changes through, and to everyone else who collaborated and supported these important bail reforms.

Strengthening IBAC                      

Amendments included in the Integrity and Accountability Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 will strengthen the Independent Broad based Anti-corruption Commission’s (‘IBAC’) ability to investigate and report on corrupt conduct.

However SJ4YP remains concerned that IBAC continues to refer the majority of complaints about police to Victoria Police for investigation.

SJ4YP and other stakeholders call on the Government to increase IBAC’s resources to ensure that IBAC can fulfil its function of independently investigating complaints of police misconduct. 

The bill is apparently the first stage of Government's integrity and accountability reforms. The Government will continue its review of the system during 2016 and 2017 to identify further opportunities to improve its effectiveness. It plans to 
release a discussion paper and invite public comment.

Additionally given the the concerns raised by by stakeholders in Victoria, the IBAC Committee of the Victorian Parliament has indicated they intend to further investigate this issue.
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