The Western Australian Government will undertake a comprehensive review of youth offender laws to ensure they can provide the best outcomes for young people involved in the justice system and the community.
Corrective Services Minister Bill Johnston has instructed the Department of Justice to determine whether the Young Offenders Act 1994 is continuing to efficiently achieve its objectives regarding contemporary youth justice issues and trends.
Key principles of the Act include diverting young people from the formal criminal justice system where possible and using detention as a last resort, while protecting the community.
The review comes as the State’s corrective services, police force and courts face and adapt to a changing youth justice landscape.
It will examine the over-representation of young Aboriginal people in detention, the effect of cognitive impairment disability on diversion, and the isolation and separation of detainees.
A consultation process will be undertaken as part of the review. An issues paper will be circulated seeking feedback from stakeholders on diversion methods, rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.
Written submissions received in response to the paper will inform the review, which is expected to be completed in the next 12 months.
As stated by Corrective Services Minister Bill Johnston:
“Youth justice is a highly complex area involving extremely challenging young people who have committed crimes or are at risk of doing so – and in many cases they need help to get back on the right path.
“Young Aboriginal people make up a disproportionate number of young offenders and young people in detention, which will be considered in the course of the review.
“Few would argue against the need for greater diversionary and rehabilitative measures for WA’s youth and addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal people in the justice system.
“The review aligns with the McGowan Government’s priority of reducing youth reoffending.”