The responsibility for youth justice in Victoria will move to the Department of Justice and Regulation. Corrections Victoria will permanently manage the security of all youth justice facilities, and a new high-security youth justice centre will be built, as part of sweeping reforms to the youth justice system.
Recent incidents have made it clear that a major shake-up is needed to ensure the safety of the community and the better management and rehabilitation of young offenders.
While the Government works on further legislative changes, the reforms announced today include:
- Moving the responsibility for the youth justice system – including all custodial and community based youth justice services – from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Department of Justice and Regulation, effective from 3 April 2017
- Corrections Victoria assuming responsibility for maintaining the safety and security of youth justice facilities
- Building a $288 million fit-for-purpose, high security youth justice centre in Werribee South, which includes 224 beds for remand and sentenced clients, a 12-bed mental health unit and an intensive supervision unit of at least 8 beds, with scope for further expansion within the 31-hectare government-owned site.
The new facility will include high-security units and a six-metre-high reinforced concrete wall, with all entries protected by mechanical and electrical anti-vehicle ramming systems.
The Government has decided against retrofitting the Parkville site because it would take seven years to complete and will now consider the next steps for the Parkville Precinct.
The new facility will incorporate all of the design imperatives outlined by former Chief Commissioner for Police Neil Comrie AO APM, who has recently finalised his review into the Parkville Precinct.
The ongoing review into the youth justice system being conducted by Ms Penny Armytage and Professor James Ogloff will address the adequacy of the current operating model and existing youth justice programs.
The preferred site for the new facility is Werribee South because the land is government-owned, it’s close to health and education services, and there is a significant buffer between the preferred site and residential areas.
Following close consultation with the local community, it’s expected construction of the new facility will begin early next year and be completed by the end of 2020. The Government is also considering locating a new justice precinct in the growing Werribee area, which may include new courts and a stronger police presence.
The construction of the new facility is expected to result in the creation of between 2,000 and 3,000 jobs.
Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews
“These reforms are what’s needed to help keep the community safe and ensure the security of our youth justice facilities.”
“We’re replacing outdated infrastructure and taking action to deal with the changing nature of young offenders.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos
“The previous Liberal Government put these reforms in the too hard basket and ignored Ombudsman reports calling for a new youth justice facility.”
“We are getting on with building a fit-for-purpose, high-security facility that is more secure and will address capacity issues for years to come.”
Quote attributable to Member for Werribee Tim Pallas
“I will be working closely with the local community to ensure they are kept informed about the new youth justice facility and our consideration of a more extensive justice precinct in the Werribee area.”