Earlier this year, a group of young people aged 15 to 25 years, all of whom had previous contact with at least one of the youth justice, adult justice and out-of-home-care systems, shared their thoughts about supporting young people at risk. The links between the child protection and justice systems are well documented, with 37 per cent of young Victorians involved with the youth justice system having previously had involvement with child protection.

The young people shared their views in a kitchen table conversation facilitated by Jesuit Social Services’ #WorthASecondChance campaign and the CREATE Foundation. Here is what they had to say.

“I was shocked when I found out that the age at which a young person could be locked up for a crime is 10 years old. People under 14 don’t have the maturity or capacity to take responsibility for their actions. I think back when I was that age and I still didn’t have much emotional maturity.”

“If a 10 or 11 year old was committing serious offences, then I would want to know what’s happening to that kid to cause them to be like that.”

“Remember there was that idea for the Boot Camp? That was ridiculous – young people who have had tough lives don’t need boot camp. They need help.”

“Young people in care don’t have family support to help them at mainstream school and when we do have to leave care when we are 18, it makes school even harder.”

“Put young offenders into TAFE or other programs. We need better education options, not just mainstream school. That won’t suit everyone. Find out from the young people what will suit them.”

“Young people that get into trouble have been to hell and back so they need support to learn skills for the future.”