Victoria’s Youth Justice system has undergone significant reform in recent years. This has been backed by over $1 billion in investment from the Andrews Labor Government.
Our roadmap for reform is the Youth justice review and strategy by Penny Armytage and Professor James Ogloff AM.
This was the first comprehensive review into the system in nearly two decades. It made clear that Youth Justice needed a robust and considered plan for the future.
This strategic plan delivers on that recommendation.
The safety of the Victorian community is the primary focus of this plan.
We will build on successes that have seen youth offending decline over the past ten years, particularly efforts to divert young people from the justice system and into support services.
For the small cohort of young people who engage in serious offending and end up in custody, we will deliver a safer and more secure custodial system with more effective interventions. This complements our investments in police and new laws focused on keeping the community safe.
We will recognise the harm caused to victims by giving them more opportunities to participate and have a say in our system.
And our approach also recognises that the children and young people who do end up in Youth Justice have often experienced the worst of life.
Many are victims of abuse, trauma and neglect at home, many experience serious mental health or drug and alcohol issues, and too many are not engaged in education, training or a job.
A disproportionate number of these young people are Aboriginal Victorians or members of culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
To prevent crime before it happens and to stop reoffending, we need to do more to tackle the causes of criminal behaviour in our young people.
We can improve community safety by supporting young people to rehabilitate through access to housing, an education, health care, mental health care, a job and through this – an enriched, life of purpose.
This strategic plan aims to bring together all areas of government in partnership with the community – to tackle the underlying causes of their offending, rehabilitate those young people or divert them from any criminal behaviour. Importantly, it is guided by and complements Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja: the Aboriginal Justice Agreement Phase 4.
At the heart of all of our efforts are our frontline staff who are absolutely committed to changing the lives of these young people and keeping Victorians safe.
Without these committed professionals, in our custodial system and in the community, we cannot achieve our vision for a leading youth justice system.
That is why this strategic plan will see us enhance our recruitment, professional development and health and safety systems so that staff feel safe at work and can be more effective in their roles.
I want to thank our staff, and all our other partners across the youth justice system for their contributions to the development of this strategic plan.
I look forward to working together to achieve this vision.
The Hon Ben Carroll MP
Minister for Youth Justice