Youth Justice Inquiry submission recommends youth justice reform in Victoria

Monash Criminologist Dr Kate Fitz-Gibbon and Deakin University criminologist Dr Wendy O’Brien have provided a submission to the Standing Committee on Legal and Social Issues (Legislation and References): Inquiry into Youth Justice Centres in Victoria.

 In their submission, Kate and Wendy acknowledge the importance of this Inquiry at a time when the Victorian youth justice system is in crisis and there is a definite need for reform of responses to children in conflict with the law. The submission makes 13 recommendations including:

  • Immediate action should be taken to ensure that no child is held in an adult prison facility in Victoria and that all children detained in Victorian youth justice centres are held in conditions that support children’s dignity and their prospects for rehabilitation.
  • That Victoria move immediately to introduce legislation to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 years of age to 12 years of age as an absolute minimum from which no exception can be drawn. To ensure better alignment between Victoria’s youth justice response and international best practice, we recommend that the minimum age of criminal responsibility be increased to 14 years of age.
  • That enhanced systems of accountability be established for all youth justice centres in Victoria, including greater scrutiny, prompt responses to reports from external monitors, and processes to ensure that children have the opportunity to provide reports to monitoring bodies.

Their submission urges the Inquiry to adopt reform that is evidence based and informed by the need to return to a model of youth justice that upholds the rights of the child and is based on diversion and therapeutic approaches to juvenile justice. 

To read the full submission, click here.

This submission draws from Kate and Wendy’s wider research examining legal responses to children in conflict with the law in Victoria and elsewhere. The findings of that research have been published in the British Journal of Criminology and Australian Journal of Human Rights.