Wednesday, 24 May 2017 17:41

Youth justice changes must consider human rights of children and young people

Following the Government’s announcement that they will increase penalties for young people who commit crimes and crack down on bail, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton today called on the Government to ensure they put the human rights of children and young people in Victoria’s justice system front and centre in any changes.

"The Government’s announcement today that they will increase penalties for young people raises a number of issues." Commissioner Hilton said.

"I am particularly concerned by the proposed move to have certain children’s cases heard in adult courts and the removal of the opportunity for 18 to 21 year olds to go to youth-specific facilities.

"The Court’s recent decision in the Barwon case made it very clear that the Government must properly consider the human rights of children and young people when making policy and legislative decisions.

"For many years Victoria has had the rehabilitation of young offenders as the centre piece of the youth justice system. This should continue. Reaction to legitimate community concern must be balanced by the need to ensure young people are treated appropriately within the justice system and are given a chance to turn their lives around.

"This is not just in the interests of the young people but also in the interests of long-term community safety."

The Government also announced plans to establish a statutory youth diversion scheme.

"I welcome the Government’s plans to create a statutory youth diversion scheme to focus on addressing the underlying causes of low level offending," Commissioner Hilton said.

Media contact

Megan Breen
0447 526 642

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