Changing the Sentence: A review of Queensland’s youth justice reforms
The Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) has released its Changing the Sentence report, which looks at youth justice reforms in Queensland and their success in reducing youth crime.
The report stemmed from a request in 2019 from the then-Department of Youth Justice, leading to a two-year research project, involving extensive consultation with communities across the State.
The QFCC talked to 125 stakeholders in Townsville, Mount Isa and North Brisbane who provide services and support to young people involved with Queensland’s youth justice system. This included legal, health, education and bail support, and other services that help young people stay out of court and detention.
The report includes 13 findings and 8 opportunities for future investment in youth justice reforms in Queensland. It found that investment should focus on both ends of the spectrum:
- prevention and early intervention for at-risk families and children, and;
- intensive specialist support to help the small number of young people already in the statutory system who are responsible for most youth crimes.
The report considered the extent to which children’s rights are being upheld by the existing system, with the report finding the system would be most effective if at-risk young people are viewed through a rights and wellbeing lens, rather than a criminal one.
The gross over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the youth justice system was also highlighted in the report, as was the importance of returning decision-making about the welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to local communities and community-controlled organisations.
The QFCC has shared the report with government agencies and asked them to take action on its findings.