Victoria has one of the most successful and effective youth justice systems in Australia. This success is indicated by lower rates of custodial sentences and the greater use of programs aimed at diverting young people from the criminal youth justice system, thereby enabling lower rates of incarceration.
Youth Justice Units
Youth justice units are a significant part of the department's 'front-line' efforts to divert young people from progressing further into the youth justice system. Youth Justice workers supervise young people to comply with their community-based orders; providing case management, advocacy, support and referral to health and welfare services, education, employment and accommodation. They also provide advice to the courts to assist them in making informed decisions.
Community-based staff work closely with youth justice centre staff, other professionals and agencies to help young people to comply with their orders and get their lives back on track.
Community-based orders include:
- Probation is a community based order imposed by a magistrate in the Children's Court. Young people who have committed offences when aged between 10 and 17 years can be placed on probation. If young people get probation when they turn 18 the Probation Order has to finish by the time they are 21 years old. Probation is usually given to young people who have offended once or twice before.
- A Youth Supervision Order is a community based order usually given to young people who have offended and appeared in court before and who have been found guilty of quite a serious offence, or numerous offences committed when under the age of 18.
- A Youth Attendance Order is a community based order usually given to young people who have been found guilty of a serious offence or who have appeared in court on a number of occasions, for offences committed when under the age of 18. A youth attendance order is a direct alternative to being detained in custody, so it is a very serious order.
- Parole allows young people to serve part of a custodial sentence given by a magistrate or a judge back in the community under the supervision of a parole officer.
Court advice and support services seek to divert young people from entering or further progressing in the criminal justice system by providing specialist youth focused advice to the courts. The Youth Justice Advice Service is available in the Children's Court and in the Magistrates', County and Supreme Courts, for young offenders aged 18-20 at the time of sentencing, through the Youth Justice Court Advice - YJCAS program.