Jesuit Social Services today welcomed a number of initiatives to strengthen Victoria’s Youth Justice system – such as the expansion of the Central After Hours Bail Placement Services and Youth Justice Bail Supervision – and called on the Andrews government to continue investing in both supervision and support.

“We have been advocating for an expansion of the After Hours Bail Services for a number of years,” said Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards.

“This will ensure that young people arrested out-of-hours have access to this valuable service, which provides necessary support and advocates in favour of bail where appropriate.

“Likewise, an expansion of the Youth Justice Bail Supervision program will help to prevent re-offending by managing young people in the community on bail.”

Ms Edwards said that both measures had the capacity not only to reduce reoffending but relieve pressure on overcrowded detention facilities allowing staff to concentrate their efforts on young people with complex issues.

Other reforms announced by the government include an increase of the maximum period of detention that can be imposed by the Children’s Court on young offenders (from three to four years), a new Youth Control Order (YCO) accompanied by intensive and targeted supervision for young people and a new offence for adults who coerce young people to commit crimes for them.

The reforms follow the State Government’s plan to recruit 2,729 new police officers. While much of the media focus has been on this issue, Ms Edwards said that police are just one critical element of a justice system that works to keep the community safe by preventing crime in the first place, diverting young people from further offending and rehabilitating those who have gone down the wrong path.

“More police need to be matched with more services so the police can refer people for the necessary assistance to get them back on track.”

Ms Edwards said the government had begun a Youth Justice Services Review that had the potential to deliver a well-considered, evidence-based road map to an improved system.

“We welcome the Youth Justice Services review and look forward to continued involvement in the review to help achieve a safer community that all Victorians deserve.”

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