Young Victorians in trouble with the law will get a shot at a second chance, with new funding announced for a state-wide diversion program.
Part of the Andrews Labor Government’s 2016/17 Victorian Budget, $6.7 million will go to programs that intervene early, helping young people get back on track and addressing the underlying issues that contribute to criminal behaviour.
$5.6 million over two years for a youth diversion program in the Children’s Court. Young people who accept responsibility for their offence and participate in the program can avoid a criminal record and receive support to address their behaviour. If the young person does not satisfy the diversion requirements their matter will return to court and they will be sentenced if found guilty.
More than $1 million over two years to expand the Youth Justice Bail Supervision program, which helps young people referred by the Children’s Court to be safely managed while in the community on bail.
The state-wide youth diversion program builds on the Jesuit Social Services’ Youth Diversion Pilot Program that has assisted more than 270 young people since June 2015. In this pilot program’s first quarter, 35 out of 38 young people who completed the program had their matters successfully dismissed.
Supervised bail means young people can stay connected to education, employment and their family, helping keep them engaged and reducing their risk of reoffending.
As part of the funding, four new full-time youth justice workers will be employed to help deliver support for young people.
The program complements the Labor Government’s Roadmap for Reform announced earlier this month, which focuses on early intervention and strengthening the child protection and family services system.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos
“No one wants to see one mistake define a young person’s entire life. Avoiding further progression into the criminal justice system is in the best interests of the young person and the community.”
“By intervening early, we’re giving kids a chance to get back on track. They can continue their education or employment, stay connected to their family and community, and importantly not reoffend.”
Quotes attributable to Attorney General Martin Pakula
“These programs help young people learn their lesson, while also addressing the underlying causes of their offending.”
“The Youth Diversion Program shows the Andrews Labor Government is committed to reducing youth offending and building a safer Victoria.”