New laws to help young people stay out of detention

The Palaszczuk Government has today passed new laws to keep young people out of out of watch houses except for normal processing, while maintaining community safety.

Minister for Youth Di Farmer welcomed the passing of the Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 and said the new laws marked an important step in the Government’s $550 million historic youth justice reform agenda.

“This legislation delivers on our commitment that children and young people should not be detained in Queensland Police Service watch houses, other than for normal arrest and processing,” she said.

“This legislation does three things.

“It removes barriers that may contribute to children being refused bail, or breaching bail conditions, or remaining in detention on remand for an extended period including in watch houses.

“When it is safe to do so, we want children out of detention, especially when they have not yet been convicted of an offence.

“Currently, some children are held on remand because they don’t have a safe home or appropriate supervision and support, not because they pose a risk to community safety.

“Importantly, these laws make sure that judges and police can use their discretion to ensure community safety when making decisions about bail – if a young person needs to be detained for reasons of community safety, then judges and police retain that ability.

“But whenever it is possible and safe to do so, we want young people out of detention, especially when they have not been convicted of an offence.”

The Bill was tabled in June and was then referred to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee for consideration. After a detailed examination, which included submissions from stakeholders, the Committee recommended that it be passed.

Ms Farmer thanked all those who had been involved in developing and drafting the bill from the initial consultation process right through to the parliamentary committee stage.

“During the development of the Bill we received valuable feedback from a wide range of stakeholders, including magistrates, police, legal practitioners, service providers and youth advocates, and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to make a submission,” she said.

“The vast majority of stakeholders appreciated our consultative approach and most of their submissions to the Committee were supportive of the Bill’s objectives, with many acknowledging the complex and challenging circumstances of children who are involved in the youth justice system.

“We know that reforming youth justice is challenging and complex and it will take time to see lasting results.

“We are committed to long-term solutions, which are set out in our Youth Justice Strategy, and this legislation is an important step in our long term strategy.

“I am proud of what we have achieved for our young people and for the community, but we still have a lot of work to do – and we are determined to get that work done.”

The Bill is expected to fully take effect at the end of 2019, with some provisions like strengthened youth justice principles that underlie the operation of the Youth Justice Act 1992 coming into effect immediately.

The Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019can be found athttps://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/html/bill.first/bill-2019-037

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