A significant number of children and young people involved with Youth Justice also have backgrounds in the child protection system. Some of these children offend at an earlier age (for example, when they are aged 10 to 14 years of age) than the rest of the population.
Aboriginal young people and girls and young women are also consistently overrepresented among those who have had involvement with both child protection and Youth Justice.
To address these issues, we need to strengthen our approach to diversion and early intervention for children and young people on child protection and Youth Justice orders. We also need to recognise the importance of a trauma-informed approach and the need to strengthen connection to culture.
Improving diversion and supporting early intervention and crime prevention
- Consider more effective approaches to diversion and early intervention for young people involved in child protection through strengthening practice, advice and training, including in relation to the Children’s Court Youth Diversion Service and the Youth Justice Group Conferencing Service.
- Promote the use of Youth Justice Group Conferencing and support the use of supervised and intensive bail. This includes development of a restorative justice initiative by the East Metropolitan and Hume Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committees as part of a community-led place-based initiative in Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja.
- Address the criminalisation of young people in out-of-home care through A framework to reduce criminalisation of young people in residential care with the Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria Police, the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare and the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency. This will look at alternatives to a police response for young people in residential care, including through the development of an 18-month action plan to support implementation of the framework
Strengthening partnerships with children and young people, families and all services and professionals who support their rehabilitation and positive development
- Explore how Victoria’s justice and social service agencies can work better together, to improve the justice, health and wellbeing outcomes for Victorians. Priority cohorts for this reform include young people in residential care at high risk of contact with the justice system and young men in Youth Justice who have complex mental health and alcohol and drug issues. Service delivery demonstration sites will roll out from early 2020, with the first four locations targeting Brimbank-Melton, Southern Melbourne, Goulburn and Central Highlands.
- Improve accountability for children and young people through a revised memorandum of understanding with the Department of Health and Human Services, which will set out clear roles and responsibilities and practice guidance for staff.
Investing in a skilled, safe and stable Youth Justice system, and safe systems of work
- Enable greater workforce collaboration through joint training and improved information sharing around case plans, assessments and interventions.