New youth justice initiatives aim to support young people and communities

The Queensland Government is investing $17 million into new and improved initiatives in the youth justice system aimed at improving the outcomes for young people engaged with the youth justice system, their families and their communities.

Minister for Youth Di Farmer said the range of initiatives included new bail support and legal advocacy services that commenced this month at several locations across Queensland.

“Last year the Palaszczuk Labor Government released our state’s first youth Justice Strategy, and the government’s response to Bob Atkinson’s report,” she said.

“The community expects young people to be accountable for their actions, and so do we. The community also doesn’t want to see young people reoffending.

“Most of the young people in detention in Queensland are on remand. We know that if they go into detention, they are more likely to reoffend.

“We put in place a range of bail support and legal advocacy initiatives from the middle of 2018, which have supported hundreds of young people already to comply with their bail conditions.

“For a lot of these kids, it’s hard to comply with their bail conditions without some support – without that support, releasing kids on bail can be almost like setting them up to fail.

“Bail support services provide the support that’s needed for young people to do what they need to do to meet the requirements of their bail and stay out of detention.

“It may be linking them with mental health or drug and alcohol support, with transport assistance, or simply encouragement to stay on track.

“The way forward for Youth Justice in Queensland will be based on what works, and there’s good evidence to show that these kinds of services work to keep young people out of detention.

“This $17 million investment will see further bail support services rolled out to Townsville, Cairns, Mount Isa, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Mackay, Toowoomba and remote South West, the South West Brisbane Corridor, Beenleigh and across South East Queensland while support in other locations will be supplied on a case-by-case basis as the need arises.”

Last week (Friday 8 Feb) Ms Farmer visited Legal Aid Queensland who will help deliver a state-wide legal advocacy service.

“The legal advocacy service is a $3.1 million investment to provide support so that young people can readily and easily access the help they need, including legal representation and bail applications, if they do come into contact with youth justice,” Ms Farmer said.

“We want to keep delivering ways to keep communities safer and reduce youth reoffending across the state and to prevent them from spending time in detention where they are almost guaranteed to reoffend.

“Our Youth Justice Strategy outlines ways to help us do just that – protect communities and break the youth offending cycle.

“An Action Plan will be developed in the first half of 2019 to give effect to the vision outlined in the Strategy.”

Ms Farmer said the Queensland Government has already made other new investments to boost support for young offenders to get back on track.

“An extra $2.28 million over two years will go to intensive case management of young people in three locations – Cairns, Rockhampton and Logan,” she said.

“Intensive case management is another way of helping to address issues that might be preventing a young person from complying with their bail conditions.

“The service will refer that young person to the right people who can help with things like mental health or drug and alcohol support, housing assistance, and staying in education.

“An additional $1.34m has been allocated to help young people meet the conditions of their bail and a further, almost $1.3 million will go to enhancing family group meetings for high risk Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to help prevent them re-offending.

“Change will take time but we are determined to keep working hard and keep our eye on what we want to achieve — supporting our young people and reducing offending while helping keep our communities safer.”

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