Passage of Youth Justice & Related Legislation Amendment Act to Create Safer Communities

Amendments to the Youth Justice& Related Legislation Amendment Act were passed in Parliament that willgive decision makers such as Police and the Courts more discretion to choosethe right consequences for young offenders.

The amendments will keep communitiessafer and ensures that young people who do the wrong thing face theconsequences by removing barriers to youth diversion programs and providing amore effective bail application model. It will also ensure consistency in youngpeoples access to legal assistance, information, and privacy.

The key changes to the YouthJustice Act, Bail Act, and Police Administration Act include:

  • Removingthe barriers to youth diversion so that Police can direct young people to addresstheir offending behaviour faster and more effectively through referrals toyouth diversion programs.
  • Improvingthe application of bail so that young people can be held to account quicker by streamlining the bailprocess. Police will continue to have the power to arrest and holdyoung people who breach their bail, the difference is that there will now befewer steps in the process. Instead of accumulating breach of bail charges,Police will be able to bring young people before the Courts sooner and theCourts will be able to make decisions about the original offences and breachessooner.
  • Limitingthe time children and young people spend in Police custody The circumstances of ayoung person in custody will be reviewed by a senior sergeant of Police everyfour hours and by a judge after 24 hours. Before this amendment, the time limitwas seven days.
  • Ensuringearlier access to legal assistance for young people so that young people have timelylegal representation and are informed of their legal rights in an appropriatemanner and language.
  • Protectingthe right to privacy for young people in court proceedings This includesfinding the right balance between the need for a young persons privacy to beprotected throughout all stages of the criminal process and the harm unwantedpublicity might cause to the child, with the needs of the victim, as well asthe need for public accountability and transparency. Victims, witnesses, support people,relevant staff and genuine representatives of the media will be permitted inclosed court proceedings. Any other member of the public may seek approval ofthe Court to attend the proceedings.

The Bill implements 11 recommendationsof the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in theNT.

Since the Territory Labor Governmentbegan its reform of the youth justice system, recent statistics show:

  • 83% of young people who undertook pre-courtyouth justice conferences did not re-offend within 12 months.
  • Just under 70% of all young people on bailorders have successfully completed their bail orders, the highest completionrate in more than 7 years.
  • 75% of young people in bail accommodation havecompleted their bail orders.
  • 80% of young people who completed OperationFlinders have not offended post-camp.
  • 71% of young people have successfully completedtheir community based orders, compared to just 51% three years ago when wefirst came to Government.

As noted by Minister for Territory Families, Dale Wakefield

These changes will make sure that young people who do the wrong thingface the consequences of their actions quicker and prevent re-offending byreferring them to programs that will address offending behaviour. Thismeans safer communities.

Since the Territory Labor Governmentbegan its reform of the youth justice system, we are seeing proof that ourearly intervention, prevention, and youth diversion programs and services areworking.

This is unlikethe CLP who slashed funding for youth services, created a punitive system thatled to a Royal Commission, and had no plans to address youth crime and preventreoffending. Simply locking up children, with pre-existing problems, in thehope they will somehow become better citizens just doesnt work.

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