Justice system ‘failing’ young people

The report found young people are not adequately being rehabilitated in detention (Bigstock)

A focus on security over education in Victoria's youth detention centres is hurting detainees' chances of rehabilitation, according to an Auditor-General's report released yesterday. Source: SBS News.

The report investigated the cases of 40 young people in youth detention between January and June last year. The audit found inadequate facilities and case management, and a focus on security which impaired access to education and health services.

“Young people in detention have not been receiving the rehabilitation services they are entitled to and that are necessary to meet their needs,” the report said.

“As a result, youth detention has not been effectively promoting reduced reoffending.”

At any time in Victoria, there are about 200 children and young people aged between 10 and 24 across the Parkville and Malmsbury youth detention centres. Aboriginal youth are over-represented.

Of the cases examined, 19 young people who needed a management plan did not have one, something the Justice Department partly blamed on an “unstable custodial environment” at the time.

The report also found there was a lack of Justice Department staff available to escort youths to or supervise them during counselling sessions.

Meanwhile, Jesuit Social Services chief Julie Edwards said the report showed that the justice system is “significantly failing its duty of care” to young people. She said in many cases, young people exiting the system were worse off than when they entered.

“This is failing everybody – it is failing young people, their families and the broader community,” Ms Edwards said.

“We already know the characteristics of the children and young people involved in the justice system. We know the vast majority have a range of problems - drug and alcohol, mental health, homelessness and disengagement with school.

“The report found that the Department of Justice and Regulation, the department that operates the youth justice system, ‘does not understand service demand, needs or whether outcomes are being achieved’.’

“How can we expect vulnerable children and young people to turn their lives around and become productive members of society if the system is not supporting them to address their problems?” Ms Edwards said.

Jesuit Social Services recently launched the #WorthASecondChance campaign, which it says showcases what an effective youth justice system could look like.

FULL STORY

Vic youth custody priorities questioned (SBS News

Damning report reveals extent of youth detention system failings (Jesuit Social Services)

RELATED COVERAGE

Victorian youth offenders missing classes, using isolation cells for bedrooms in detention: report (ABC News)

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