The Palaszczuk Government has today announced a significant new investment of $320 million in Youth Justice reforms. This is additional to a $230 million injection into the system since the welcomed transfer of 17 year olds from the adult criminal justice system to Youth Justice, bringing the total investment to $550 million.
Strategies that will now be funded include:
- Community youth responses to crime ‘hotspots’ in three locations – Brisbane, Ipswich and Cairns
- Enhanced youth and family wellbeing services to be delivered in partnership with Indigenous Family Wellbeing Services
- A transitional hub to divert young people from police custody in Mount Isa
- Community-based supervision by Queensland Police for high risk young people on bail in South East Queensland
- Eight specialist multi-agency response teams
- $28.7 million over four years for expansion of the Transition 2 Success program to help young people enter the workforce or return to school
- $27 million to expand the existing restorative justice programs
- Extension of funding for an additional Specialist Children’s Court Magistrate
- A Queensland Youth Partnership Initiative with the retail sector to divert young people from offending
- Continuation of the ‘Townsville Community Response’ including the High-Risk Youth Court, After Hours Youth Diversion Services and Cultural Mentoring
- Construction of a new 32 bed youth detention centre at Wacol near to the existing Brisbane Youth Detention Centre, at an estimated total cost of approximately $150 million, and
- $27 million to build 16 more beds at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre.
In announcing the new investment, the Honourable Di Farmer MP, Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women noted that, while the investment increases the statewide capacity of youth detention centres from 254 to 302 beds, “Our focus remains on reducing offending rates and preventing young people ever needing to be placed in detention”.
The investment represents a continuation of the Government’s Youth Justice Strategy released in 2018 which was based on ‘four pillars’ of reform – intervene early, keep children out of court, keep children out of custody and reduce reoffending – recommended by Mr Bob Atkinson AO APM in his Report on Youth Justice. Minister Farmer noted that a key element of the Youth Justice Strategy is to ensure strong engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to support them in arriving at and developing their own solutions.
PeakCare applauds the Palaszczuk Government for this new and significant investment in youth justice reforms, especially in relation to evidence-based initiatives that prevent youth crime and divert children from detention. It is particularly pleasing to note the respect being shown to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations as the best placed to design and deliver the services that will work best for their children, young people and families.
PeakCare remains concerned about the alarmingly high proportion of Queensland children and young people being held in detention on remand – around 85% compared with only around 60% nationally. In association with this concern, we are extremely concerned about the deleterious impact on the wellbeing of children and young people being accommodated for extended periods of time in watchhouses. While the newly announced initiatives will be of assistance in addressing this problem in the medium and long term, a concerted and collaborative effort by Police, legal practitioners, court personnel and the judiciary, and all government and non-government agencies who are engaged in working with children, young people and their families is needed now to alleviate this crisis.
PeakCare looks forward to studying the recently announced initiatives and providing further commentary as further details become available.
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