The primary legislative basis for the Children's Court and youth justice service is the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005. The Act requires that the developmental needs of children and adolescents must always be considered in the court's decision making.
The 'dual track' system
Section 32 of the Sentencing Act 1991 legislates that some 18 to 20 year olds can receive a custodial sentence to a youth justice centre instead of an adult prison if the court believes the young person has reasonable prospects for rehabilitation, or is particularly impressionable, immature or likely to be subjected to undesirable influences in an adult prison. This is commonly referred to as the 'dual track' system.
Role of the Children's Court
The Children's Court of Victoria is a specialist court with three divisions to deal with matters relating to children. These are:
- Family Division
- Criminal Division
- Koori Court (Criminal Division).
The Family Division of the Children's Court deals with applications relating to the protection and care of children and young persons at risk and other related matters.
The Criminal Division of the Children's Court deals with matters relating to criminal offending by children and young people occurring between the ages of 10 and 17 years.
The Children's Koori Court hears matters relating to criminal offending (other than sexual offences) by Aboriginal children and young people.