John Scott alongside the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath and Minister for Child safety, Shannon Fentiman, at a Press conference on Friday
On the 15 September School of Justice Professor, John Scott, joined the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath and Minister for Child safety, Shannon Fentiman, at a press conference in the Queensland Parliament outlining the Palaszczuk Government’s timeline for the integration of 17-year-olds into the youth criminal system, to break the cycle of youth offending, reduce remand numbers and create safer communities.
Staged transitioning will begin in November 2017, and the Youth Justice and Other Legislation (Inclusion of 17-year-old Persons) Amendment Act will commence on 12 February 2018.
The plan also includes:
- Supervised Bail Accommodation Services as an option for 14-17 year olds from November 2017
- Separate zones within Brisbane Youth Detention Centre and Cleveland Youth Detention Centre for 10-13 year olds
- Recruitment of new frontline staff for courts, community and Youth Detention Centres
- More resources for courts, including two more magistrates, to ensure timely processes
- Provision of after-hours legal services to young people and increased funding for Legal Aid Queensland
Mrs D’Ath said about 80% of young people in youth detention in Queensland were on remand, awaiting the outcome of their court matters. Often, this is because there is no suitable accommodation or support services for their release on supervision. The nationwide average for young people on remand is 57%.The plan will provide courts with another bail alternative, reducing their reliance on remand as a solution for youths who have no safe home to go to. Nine sites will provide specialised Bail accommodation centres at Carbrook, Camooweal, Jacobs Well, Mt Isa, Wacol, Logan Reserve and in two existing facilities in Townsville. The majority are in rural or semi-rural areas. Youth justice workers would be based at the Supervised Bail Accommodation and there will also be health, education and other services available.
Professor Scott spoke in support of the measures, but said they may not be initially popular.
“It may not win votes; it’s not an ideological initiative, it’s not a political initiative,” he said.
He said “This is Criminology 101, we need to be careful that young people are integrated back into communities and not isolated or stigmatised.”
He also noted that these initiatives would have positive impacts for rural communities and this was important, especially given rural young people faced additional challenges in terms of lack of resources and justice options.