Overview

The report provides insights into the significant reforms to the Youth Justice system that have taken place since the reforms under review commenced.

This review acquits a legislative requirement in the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 for the Minister for Youth Justice and the Attorney-General to review key reforms introduced in 2017.  

The Youth Justice Reform Act introduced:

  • a court ordered diversion program
  • Youth Control Orders as a new community sentencing option
  • a serious youth offence regime with specific consequences for young people charged with offences categorised as serious youth offences
  • increased penalties for offences committed in a Youth Justice centre and
  • other miscellaneous amendments.

Overall, the review is supportive of progress made since the Youth Justice Reform Act was introduced but makes 20 recommendations which identify opportunities for further improvement. 

These recommendations sit across the court system, Youth Justice and Victoria Police, as well as other partner agencies.

The recommendations cover areas such as improving access to diversion, realigning the legislation with current policy settings and strengthening opportunities for victims of crime to engage in Youth Justice processes in a supported way. Many recommendations relate to legislative reform. Others require further data analysis or suggest further work be undertaken.  

Key stakeholders involved

The review  and its recommendations are a product of the valuable input received from key stakeholders including:

  • Victoria Legal Aid
  • the courts
  • Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service
  • Aboriginal Justice Caucus
  • First People’s Assembly
  • Victoria Police
  • Centre for Multicultural Youth
  • Commission for Children and Young People
  • Office of Public Prosecutions
  • Youth Justice staff
  • key government departments
  • young people with lived experience 

The review was also guided by an independent Expert Advisory Group, established to advise on the development of a new legislative framework for Youth Justice. 

Acknowledgments

The Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS) acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples and Traditional Owners and custodians of the land and waterways upon which our lives depend. We acknowledge and pay our respects to ancestors of this country, Elders, knowledge holders and leaders – past, present and emerging.

We extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are steeped in culture and lore having existed within Australia continuously for some 65,000 years.

We acknowledge the ongoing leadership of Aboriginal communities across Victoria in striving to build on these strengths to address inequalities and improve Aboriginal justice outcomes.

The review was led by Kerin Leonard, independent consultant, who was supported by a part-time secretariat from DJCS. 

The review was also supported by the Crime Statistics Agency and Performance and Evaluation within Youth Justice—their responsiveness to the review’s many data requests was greatly appreciated.

The review was supported by the significant contribution of Evidence & Insights within DJCS who conducted the evaluation of the Children’s Court Youth Diversion (CCYD) service.

The review was also supported by the executive leadership within Youth Justice, as well as the valuable expertise offered by Expert Advisory Group members Paul Grant (chair), Tim Cartwright, Tim Goodwin and Professor Susan Sawyer AM.

DJCS thanks stakeholders within the justice and community sectors, the many people across government, and especially the young people who engaged with the review for sharing their insights and ideas for positive change.

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