Jesuit Social Services commends the Northern Territory Government on its passing of amendments of the Youth Justice & Related Legislation Amendment Act, which will create better opportunities for young people who have contact with the justice system to get their lives back on track.
“Two years ago, the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory provided a blueprint into what an effective youth justice system should look like – one that supports them towards positive pathways to give them the best opportunity to lead productive lives, while providing meaningful consequences when they do the wrong thing,” says Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards.
“These amendments are evidence-based and will work towards the type of system that benefits everybody – young people who have contact with the justice system, their families, victims of crime and the broader community.”
The new amendments will give police and the courts more discretion to choose the right pathways for young people. This includes police having the ability to refer young people to youth diversion programs. It also strengthens protections for children in our justice system by providing earlier access to legal assistance and reducing the time children and young people can spend in police custody.
“An effective and humane youth justice system is one where detention is only ever used as a last resort, and that young people in trouble can be supported to take responsibility for their actions, address the underlying causes of behaviour and reach their potential in the community,” says Ms Edwards.
“Any efforts to strengthen and streamline the referral process for young people to access these types of services will ultimately mean they are better supported to turn their lives around, to access education and training pathways and to connect with family, culture and community.
“This ultimately means they are less likely to re-offend, meaning less crime and fewer victims.”
Earlier this year, the Northern Territory announced its Back on Track: Cutting Youth Crime plan. Jesuit Social Services is among the organisations that will deliver a suite of programs across the Territory. Jesuit Social Services has received funding to support young people in Katherine to participate in victim-offender conferences and make positive plans for the future. This work will include linking young people with role models and cultural mentors who can support them to reach their goals.
“The Territory Government’s commitment to reform – through initiatives like Back on Track and also these amendments – is based on best practice in keeping young people and communities safe, and the positive effects will be felt by all of us.”
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