Jesuit Social Services contributed a submission in response to the Victorian Government’s Discussion Paper ‘What matters to young people in Victoria’. The Discussion Paper and consultation process aims to inform the development of a new state-wide youth strategy due to be released in late 2021. The Discussion Paper focuses on attainment of six outcomes to ensure the state is the best place to be for young people.
Our submission emphasizes that the best outcomes for young Victorians will only be achieved by a holistic, whole-of-Government approach that specifically targets young people at heightened risks of marginalisation and disadvantage.
We call for the Youth Strategy strategy to be underpinned by a framework that embeds human rights principles, contain clear and measurable outcome targets and establishes clear levels of accountability.
Our key recommendations for creating an environment in which young Victorians flourish and thrive include raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years of age to ensure primary school aged children remain in classroom not prison; expanding and improving restorative justice programs; investing in in research, workforce capacity building, and the development, piloting and evaluation of early interventions to positively shift cultures and attitudes to address the underlying drivers of violence and other harmful behaviours by boys and men; increasing investment in initiatives that provide training and educational opportunities for young people, particularly those engaged in the justice system; investing in initiatives that address locational disadvantage; creating sustainable ongoing supported housing options for young people at greatest risk of homelessness and embedding a First Nations informed and led approach into ecological practices.