21 May 2020
New Youth Justice Strategic Plan 2020-2030 – A welcome reform but greater focus on multicultural youth needed
The Minister for Youth Justice, the Hon. Ben Carroll today released the Victorian Government’s new Youth Justice Strategic Plan 2020-2030. The 10-year plan includes some important features that will make a positive difference in the lives of young Victorians.
CMY is pleased to see the needs of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds recognised in this plan, with 39% of those in the youth justice system identifying as culturally and linguistically diverse.
CEO Carmel Guerra, also a member of the Youth Parole Board, says:
“This plan is a positive first step, but Victoria can do better. We urge the Government to follow this up with the development of a Multicultural Youth Justice Strategy that commits to targeted programs and supports that aim to decrease the over-representation of refugee and migrant youth in justice settings.”
From our extensive work with the South Sudanese Community Support Groups and Le Mana Pasifika programs, we know these communities are deeply concerned by the over-representation of their young people in the justice system. We look forward to working with the Government to facilitate stronger engagement with the South Sudanese and Pasifika communities.
The inclusion in the plan of measures that acknowledge the need for young people to be supported by members of their own community is key. Greater collaboration between the system and communities, organisations, families and young people themselves, is essential to decrease the number of young people entering the justice system.
CMY views commitments to strengthen targeted diversion, early intervention and prevention mechanisms as critical in building a more culturally-responsive youth justice system.
“Investment in both early intervention and rehabilitation is the only way to truly reform the system and ensure we become the leading youth justice system in Australia once again,” Ms Guerra says.
The strategy also makes important in-roads to addressing some of the significant issues young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds face once they are in the system, as well as those they experience upon exiting. However, CMY believes that a leading youth justice system is one that includes a clear plan and commitment to raising the age of legal responsibility from 10 to 14 years.
CMY commends Minister Carroll on the inclusive approach undertaken to developing this strategy. Acknowledging the high-level nature of the plan, and its 10-year timeframe, Ms Guerra says the organisation is keen to see how the plan translates into practice, recognising that successful implementation will require ongoing community input and support.
“CMY looks forward to working closely with the Department, the community and young people to ensure this plan works to achieve the best possible outcomes for all young Victorians.”
CMY is a member of Smart Justice for Young People, a coalition of over 40 leading social services, health, legal, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and youth advocacy organisations working together to create change for children and young people who come into contact with the justice system. Read their response here.
MEDIA: For further information or to arrange an interview with CMY CEO Carmel Guerra, please contact Hannah Ford on 0429 592 860 or firstname.lastname@example.org.