Youth Justice Inquiry Highlights System Failings

The importance of rehabilitating young offenders and understanding the underlying causes of their offending is highlighted in a number of proposals contained in the latest report into Victoria’s youth justice system, endorsing Jesuit Social Services’ view that a therapeutic response is most likely to deliver a safer community.

In particular, Jesuit Social Services welcomes the recommendation of the Parliamentary Committee inquiring into Victorian youth justice centres that screening and assessment procedures be strengthened for all young people who come into contact with the justice system, to determine appropriate programs during incarceration and upon release. The proposals to enhance post-release supports, including around access to housing and continuity of drug and alcohol treatment, are also likely to improve community safety.

Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards said: “The prevailing tough on crime attitude ignores the subtleties of what leads children and young people to offend. If we invest in tailored and targeted programs instead of overly punitive responses we are far more likely to see a turnaround in offending behaviour.”

Ms Edwards said it was pleasing the Committee had taken account of Jesuit Social Services’ #JusticeSolutions investigation into successful overseas models, and the opportunities offered by well-delivered therapeutic models such as those observed in Missouri and Spain.

“The Committee chair noted that the current system is failing to deliver for both the community and young offenders,” Ms Edwards said. “It is important that we take stock of the challenges, including the need for staff who have appropriate attributes and skills, along with sufficient training, support and resources.

“Addressing crime at its root causes is preferable to adopting kneejerk, punitive responses that only exacerbate problems.

“We know where the system is broken, and we also know many of the solutions. It is time to implement them.”


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