Changing the Sentence - Overseeing Queensland's youth justice reforms - Queensland Family & Child ...

 
Changing the Sentence - Overseeing Queensland's youth justice reforms - Queensland Family & Child ...
Changing
the Sentence
Overseeing Queensland’s youth justice reforms

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Changing the Sentence - Overseeing Queensland's youth justice reforms - Queensland Family & Child ...
Copyright
Changing the sentence: Overseeing Queensland’s youth justice reforms.
Copyright © The State of Queensland (Queensland Family and Child Commission) 2021.

ISBN 978-0-6488903-4-8

Licence
This report is licensed by the State of Queensland (Queensland Family and Child Commission) under a
creative commons attribution (CC BY) 4.0 International licence. You are free to copy, communicate and
adapt this report, as long as you attribute the work to the State of Queensland (Queensland Family and
Child Commission). To view a copy of this licence visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Content from this report should be attributed as: The State of Queensland (Queensland Family and Child
Commission) Changing the sentence: Overseeing Queensland’s youth justice reforms.

March 2021

                                                                                                         When we have power over our destiny
                                                                                                         our children will flourish. They will walk
                                                                                                         in two worlds and their culture will be a
                                                                                                         gift to their country.

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Changing the Sentence - Overseeing Queensland's youth justice reforms - Queensland Family & Child ...
Acknowledgement

    We acknowledge the Jagera and Turrbul peoples      As written in the Uluru statement from the Heart
    as the traditional custodians of the country on    ‘When we have power over our destiny our
    which we did most of this work and we pay our      children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds
    respects to Elders past, present and emerging.     and their culture will be a gift to their country’.

    Thank you to everyone we met with for your care,
    passion and compassion. In particular, we thank
    the young people and families who agreed to
    speak with us.

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Changing the Sentence - Overseeing Queensland's youth justice reforms - Queensland Family & Child ...
Foreword                                                                                                              Foreword

    The Queensland Government’s Working together              To cover different demographics, we focused
    Changing the Story: Youth Justice Strategy                on Mt Isa, Townsville and North Brisbane. Over
    2019–23 has a strong focus on prevention, early           a period of seven months, we interviewed
    intervention and collaboration to tackle the              stakeholders from a wide range of organisations,
    underlying causes of youth crime.                         analysed data on young people in the system,
                                                              interviewed children and their families,
    In June 2019, the Director-General of the Department      commissioned a media analysis report, and
    of Youth Justice asked the Queensland Family and          studied three reform initiatives in depth.
    Child Commission (QFCC) to help monitor initiatives
    linked to recent youth justice reforms and to examine     We found that good work is occurring in the
    options for future investments.                           system, with state government agencies
                                                              collaborating to keep children out of court and
    This report is the outcome of that request. While         custody and placing more emphasis on working
    it was being prepared, three tragic incidents             with families than they have in the past.
    took place that significantly changed public
    discussion on the topics this report addresses. In        The three initiatives we examined are promising.
    June 2020, four Townsville teenagers died while           It is particularly heartening to note that 790 police
    riding in a stolen car driven by a 14-year-old. In        officers and police liaison officers nominated to                  currently provided too late in children’s lives,          prevention, early intervention and collaboration to
    January 2021, an allegedly stolen car driven by           participate in Operation Regenerate, and that                      or not at all in the case of those who live in            tackle the underlying causes of youth crime. This
    a 17-year-old struck and killed a Brisbane couple         there was a significant reduction in reoffending by                remote areas. There is also not enough focus on           is a sound approach, and the QFCC supports it. I
    and their unborn child. Eleven days later, a young        the young people who took part. The other two                      continuing the education of children who struggle         congratulate those who have been involved in the
    Townsville woman died after being hit by a car            initiatives are also delivering encouraging results.               to fit into a mainstream school or are returning          reforms and initiatives to date and encourage the
    allegedly following a stolen vehicle in what was                                                                             from disciplinary absences or youth justice               government to stay the course in order to achieve
    characterised as a ‘vigilante’ pursuit.                   These successes show that targeted interventions                   interventions. This is difficult, but critical. We know   the intent of the youth justice reforms.
                                                              in the lives of young people can work. This should                 disengagement from education can be an early
    These deaths were senseless, and rightly led to           encourage those responsible for areas where this                   indicator of a more general detachment from               We have more work to do.
    community demands for changes that would                  report has identified that more needs to be done.                  community, which in turn is one of the risk factors
    prevent a recurrence. For those changes to be                                                                                for criminal behaviour.
    lasting, as a community we must actively engage           Communication must improve — in the court
    with the potentially confronting concept that             system, between organisations and families and                     The services and support we provide should
    preventing youth crime also means addressing              between police and young people. Good news                         be more targeted and more focused on dealing
    its causes. Youth justice is much more than just          stories need to be heard. The bad news reported                    with trauma and specialist early intervention.            Cheryl Vardon
    court, bail, diversion, or detention. It involves         in the media generates fear and mistrust in the                    To help with this, Aboriginal and Torres Strait           Principal Commissioner
    health, education, non-government organisations,          community that does not help the system make                       Islander communities and families and community           Queensland Family and Child Commission
    community controlled organisations, victims of            the necessary shift away from a purely criminal                    controlled organisations should be directly               March 2021
    crime, the media, families, children and young            focus towards prevention, rights and well-being,                   involved in designing and prioritising programs.
    people, and society as a whole.                           which are proven to make a difference.                             More needs to be done with these communities in
                                                                                                                                 terms of collaboration and early intervention.
    Research shows the most effective way to improve          We consulted the Queensland Human Rights Act
    the youth justice system is to take a preventative and    2019, the Youth Justice Act 1992, and the United                   I urge decision makers to consider the future
    supportive approach. With that in mind, this report       Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to                   opportunities listed in this paper. They are
    looks at initiatives related to keeping children out of   identify the rights of children and young people in                proposed to improve early support for families
    court and custody. We set out to determine whether        the youth justice system. Concerningly, we believe                 and reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal
    youth justice reforms are delivering a system that is     some of these rights are being neglected and, in                   children and Torres Strait Islander children in the
    reliable, trusted and built on shared commitments.        some cases, are at risk of being breached.                         statutory system.
    We also wanted to find out whether children’s rights,
    well-being and safety are being protected.                Specialist health and education services are                       The Youth Justice Strategy includes the use of

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Changing the Sentence - Overseeing Queensland's youth justice reforms - Queensland Family & Child ...
Executive summary                                                                                                                                                                                Executive summary

                                   Introduction                                                                     government and non-government agencies                                                     to ongoing improvement of services and                   safety of children can be made by police,
                                                                                                                    involved.                                                                                  greater benefits for families.                           educators and health providers. Examples of
                                   In June 2019, the Director-General of the then                                                                                                                         4.	Behaviour change is hard, yet stakeholders                delays in school enrolment and in receiving
                                   Department of Youth Justice† (Youth Justice),                                    While Youth Justice was responsible for                                                    understand and affirm the importance of                  medical treatment were provided to us and are
                                   asked the Queensland Family and Child                                            developing the strategy and related Youth Justice                                          support for young children and their families as         included in this report.
                                   Commission (QFCC) to assist in ‘monitoring                                       Strategy Action Plan 2019–21,4 many initiatives,                                           a way to prevent initial or ongoing engagement      10.	The system does not always provide the most
                                   youth justice initiatives and examining options                                  especially those relating to early intervention and                                        of children in the youth justice system.                 vulnerable children and families with equitable
                                   that will inform future youth justice systems                                    prevention, are being led by other departments.                                       5.	There are plenty of services for vulnerable               access to specialist services and support,
                                   and processes.’ The intent of this was to ‘ensure                                The action plan includes seven Queensland                                                  young people in Mount Isa, North Brisbane                particularly in remote communities. Access to
                                   that recent investment decisions of government                                   Government departments as lead agencies.                                                   and Townsville; however, many services are               these services is sometimes not available until
                                   are implemented and continuously improved to                                                                                                                                activity-based. High risk or repeat offenders            children arrive in the statutory youth justice
                                   support the best outcomes for children, young                                    We chose to draw heavily on the views of front                                             need specialist help to address the offending            system.
                                   people and the community’.1                                                      line service providers in Mount Isa, Townsville                                            behaviour, including treatment of poor health,      11.	Not enough health and education support
                                                                                                                    and Brisbane. We also included the voices of a                                             trauma or family dynamics where that has                 is available for children below the age of 12.
                                   This report addresses the Youth Justice request                                  small number of children and family members.                                               contributed to the behaviour.                            Recent funding to primary schools for extra
                                   in the context of the QFCC’s Oversight Strategy                                  By listening to these groups, we could gauge                                          6.	Data on over-representation of Aboriginal and            psychologists is welcome and should be part of
                                   2020–22, from which we drew two key questions:                                   the impact of reforms on the communities and                                               Torres Strait Islander children in the youth             an ongoing funding shift to focus on the earlier
                                                                                                                    individuals for whom they were intended.                                                   justice system:                                          years of schooling.
                                        • Are youth justice reforms ensuring there                                                                                                                            – continues to show there is an insufficient       12.	There has been a focus on student
                                           is a reliable, trusted system built on shared                            Findings on key questions                                                                     response to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres        engagement in education, but not enough
                                           connections and commitment?                                                                                                                                            Strait Islander children and their families           consistency in ensuring continuity of education
                                        • Are youth justice reforms ensuring children’s                            Are youth justice reforms ensuring                                                         – is not linked well enough to data on health,          for children on disciplinary absences or for
                                           rights, well-being and safety are being upheld                           there is a reliable, trusted system                                                           education and housing                                 those who struggle to fit in a mainstream
                                           and protected?                                                           built on shared connections and                                                            – is not detailed enough to use in local and            school.
                                                                                                                    commitment?                                                                                   community-led responses.                         13.	The Queensland Children’s Court’s efforts to
                                   The report considers activities and projects                                                                                                                            7.	There has been no improvement to the                     produce plain English versions of charges
                                   related to pillars two and three of the Queensland                               1.	The percentage of children and young people                                             statistics on over-representation. Despite this,        and bail conditions for families and children is
                                   Government Working together Changing the                                             in contact with the formal (statutory) youth                                            Aboriginal communities and families, Torres             commendable, and this work needs to continue
                                   Story: Youth Justice Strategy 2019–23 2 (the                                         justice system is very small—representing 0.3                                           Strait Islander communities and families, and           and expand to magistrates’ courts.
                                   Youth Justice Strategy), which are:                                                  per cent of children aged 10 to 17. Forty-five per                                      families in general, have limited opportunities
                                                                                                                        cent of children and young people never return                                          to provide input into program design and           Future opportunities
                                        • Keep children out of court.                                                  to the statutory youth justice system after their                                       prioritisation of funds for initiatives intended
                                        • Keep children out of custody.                                                court matter is finalised.                                                              for them. Closing the Gap action planning          As part of its brief to examine options for future
                                                                                                                    2.	There are good examples of state government                                             provides an opportunity for government to          youth justice systems and processes, the QFCC
                                   The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare                                       agencies working together, and the focus on                                             include Indigenous communities and agencies        has found:
                                   defines a youth justice system as:                                                   keeping children out of court and custody                                               in decision making about how to achieve the
                                                                                                                        may be further strengthened by Aboriginal or                                            youth justice target in the new agreement.            • The youth justice system would be more
                                        the set of processes and practices for                                          Torres Strait Islander community controlled                                       8.	Legislative and policy changes, made in                    effective in improving the lives of vulnerable
                                        managing children and young people who have                                     organisations and non-government agencies                                              response to particular incidents, may make it             children and keeping the community safe if it
                                        committed, or allegedly committed, an offence.                                  having opportunities to increase their leadership                                      harder for the system to achieve the intended             viewed at-risk young people through a rights
                                        In Australia, it deals primarily with young                                     and participation in these collaborations.                                             outcomes of the Youth Justice Strategy.                   and well-being, rather than just a criminal, lens.
                                        people aged 10–17 at the time of the offence.3                              3.	There has been a strong move towards working                                                                                                  • New programs and projects where the primary
                                                                                                                        with the families of children in the system, and                                  Are youth justice reforms ensuring                             audience is Aboriginal children and families,
                                   When we refer to the youth justice system in                                         agencies are recognising the importance of                                        children’s rights, well-being and safety                       and/or Torres Strait Islander children and
                                   this document, we are talking about all the                                          this. Lessons are emerging that will contribute                                   are being upheld and protected?                                families, should be community-led.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Governments (both state and federal) need to
†
    In November 2020, the Department of Youth Justice was merged with the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women to form the new Department of Children, Youth and Multicultural Affairs.            9.	Improvements to the rights, well-being and                 make long-term, outcomes-based investments

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Changing the Sentence - Overseeing Queensland's youth justice reforms - Queensland Family & Child ...
Executive summary

                in prevention and early intervention in the         collaboration to tackle underlying causes of
                health of children and families, with regular       youth crime.
                review points. Investment should not be siloed
                by agency but shift to person-centred care.         This is a sound approach, and the QFCC supports
             • The Queensland Government should continue           it. While recent youth justice reforms may
                to strengthen the growing focus on prevention       contribute to reducing the numbers of some young
                and early intervention for young children (that     people in the youth justice system, they could be
                is, birth–five years of age) and their families     improved. Many initiatives focused on activities that
                through multi-agency co-operation and               did not include dedicated case management or
                partnerships.                                       specialised therapy and were not designed to cater
             • Data needs to be linked to Youth Justice from       for clients with very complex behaviours.
                other critical systems including Child Safety,
                Health, Education and the Queensland Police         While national data suggests a downward trend
                Service, and broken down to regional and local      of children placed on supervision orders or in
                levels, to help communities make decisions          detention, legislative change and new initiatives
                and prioritise services relevant to their region    by government over many years have failed to
                (this is also in the National Agreement on          improve the over-representation of Aboriginal and
                Closing the Gap5).                                  Torres Strait Islander children in the youth justice
             • While a long-term culture shift within the         system.7 Families must be included in all decisions
                Queensland Police Service towards crime             relating to their children, and the rights of children
                prevention and community policing remains           made central to funding decisions and to the work
                essential, there could also be regular training     of professionals, courts and family services.
                for police officers about working with children,
                Aboriginal peoples, and Torres Strait Islander      As required by the Australian Government’s
                peoples.                                            Closing the Gap and outlined in the Queensland
             • Youth Justice, the Queensland Police Service,      Government’s Changing tracks, an action plan
                legal services and courts could consider            for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
                collaborating on improving communication            and families,8 the Queensland Government
                with families and children involved in the          must increase the pace at which it is returning
                statutory youth justice system. This includes       decision-making affecting Aboriginal communities
                keeping families informed about the status or       and Torres Strait Islander communities to those
                progress of their child’s case, ensuring families   communities.
                have the means to attend court, and explaining
                things in ways that can be understood by the        If the long-term goal of reducing youth crime is
                client and family.                                  to be achieved, investment should focus firstly on
             • As identified in the Atkinson report,6 a           reduction of the factors that may contribute to a
                coordinated media strategy should be adopted        young person committing crime, and secondly, on
                to promote and support the policy position of       young people already in the formal system who
                the Youth Justice Strategy.                         are committing most of the youth crime.

         Chapter 5 provides more detail on future                   The QFCC urges government to stay the course             Every single program they’ve got him in now,
         opportunities.                                             and continue to provide long-term funding in             finishes once he goes to court. There’s no help
                                                                    accordance with the Youth Justice Strategy.
         Conclusion                                                 This will support the significant strides needed         after that. It just stops dead. So, there’s no
                                                                    towards reducing youth crime and realising the           continuity of care … there’s no follow on, there’s
         The Youth Justice Strategy includes the                    right of every Queensland child to be safe, with
         use of of prevention, early intervention and               opportunities to succeed.                                no follow up.

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Changing the Sentence - Overseeing Queensland's youth justice reforms - Queensland Family & Child ...
Contents
    		        Acknowledgement                                                                           2

                                                                                                                 3.2     Is the youth justice system trusted?                                             54
    		        Foreword                                                                                  4                3.2.1    Influence of media                                                      57

    		        Executive summary                                                                         6        3.3     Is there evidence of shared connections and commitment?                          60
                                                                                                                         3.3.1    Collaboration between government agencies                               60
                                                                                                                         3.3.2 Collaboration with non-government organisations                            63
         1    Introduction                                                                             12                3.3.3 Collaboration with young people and families                               66

             1.1     Purpose                                                                           14        3.4	Findings—Are youth justice reforms ensuring there is a reliable,
                                                                                                                      trusted system built on shared connections and commitment?                          66

             1.2     Project methodology                                                               14
                                                                                                            4     Are children’s rights, well-being and safety being upheld and protected?                68

             1.3     Context, scope and limitations                                                    22
                                                                                                                 4.1     Are children’s and young people’s rights being upheld?                           70
                                                                                                                         4.1.1   Right to protection of families and children                             70
     2        The Queensland youth justice system                                                      24                4.1.2 Cultural rights                                                            70
                                                                                                                         4.1.3 Rights in criminal proceedings                                             71
                                                                                                                         4.1.4 Right to education                                                         74
             2.1     Overview                                                                          26                4.1.5 Right to health services                                                   81

             2.2     Numbers and characteristics of young people in the youth justice system           31        4.2     Are children and young people safe?                                              83
                     2.2.1 Children with complex behaviours                                            31                4.2.1 Stable accommodation                                                       83
                     2.2.2 Trajectory of younger children in the youth justice system                  33                4.2.2 Dealings with the police                                                   86

             2.3     Youth justice reform                                                              34        4.3     Findings—Are children’s rights, well-being and safety being upheld and protected? 86

             2.4     The views of young people and families in contact with the youth justice system   36   5.    Future opportunities                                                                    88

             2.5     Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and the youth justice system   37   6.    Next steps for the QFCC                                                                 92
                     2.5.1   Decision making                                                           37
                     2.5.2 Connection to community and culture                                         40   		    Appendix                                                                                96

                                                                                                            		    References                                                                             102
     3        Is the youth justice system reliable, trusted and built on
               shared connections and commitment?                                                      42

             3.1     Is the youth justice system reliable?                                             44
                     3.1.1    Consistency                                                              44
                     3.1.2    Complexity of the system                                                 50
                     3.1.3    Fulfilling its purpose—diversion and intervention                        51

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Changing the Sentence - Overseeing Queensland's youth justice reforms - Queensland Family & Child ...
1. Introduction

                   On any given day in Queensland, approximately
                   1,643 young people aged 10–17 are on community
                   supervision and a further 252 are in custody.
                   This represents 0.4 of one per cent of the 512,416
                   people in Queensland aged 10–17.

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Changing the Sentence - Overseeing Queensland's youth justice reforms - Queensland Family & Child ...
1. Introduction                                                                                                                                                                               Introduction

                                1.1 Purpose                                                                       of young offenders but only seven per cent of the                                   to improve opportunities and well-being for             Torres Strait Islander children in the youth justice
                                                                                                                  Queensland population.)                                                             vulnerable young people.                                system. We gathered examples of good practice
                                In June 2019, the then Director-General of the                                                                                                                                                                                as well as evidence of where trust and reliability
                                Queensland Department of Youth Justice† (Youth                                    1.2 Project methodology                                                             Courts and custody are the points at which              could be improved.
                                Justice) asked the Queensland Family and Child                                                                                                                        already vulnerable children become even
                                Commission (QFCC) to assist in monitoring                                         Our discussion of the youth justice system                                          more vulnerable. If governments want to make            The project team conducted 83 meetings and
                                Queensland Government youth justice initiatives                                   in this report is based on quantitative data                                        wiser investment decisions for both social and          interviews with 125 stakeholders from Mount
                                in the light of recent reforms and investments.                                   and interviews with service providers. Our                                          economic outcomes, the investment focus needs           Isa, Townsville and Brisbane between November
                                He also asked us to examine options to inform                                     observations are illustrated by quotes and stories                                  to continue to be on diverting children away from       2019 and June 2020. Participants came from 43
                                future youth justice systems and processes.                                       from community members, families, young people                                      these points.                                           organisations or regional offices drawn from:
                                                                                                                  and frontline service providers.                                                                                                               • 13 government agencies
                                This report is in response to that request.                                                                                                                           Drawing from the Queensland Family and Child               • 10 non-government agencies
                                It is not a review and includes no formal                                         We conducted an environmental scan of youth                                         Commission’s Oversight Strategy 2020–22,12 we              • n ine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
                                recommendations. Rather, it sets out findings                                     justice policy in Australia and of major policies and                               sought answers to the following two questions:                community controlled organisations.
                                and suggestions to guide future investment                                        reforms in Queensland.                                                                •A
                                                                                                                                                                                                          re youth justice reforms ensuring there
                                decisions and future directions within the youth                                                                                                                         is a reliable, trusted system built on shared
                                justice system.                                                                   We identified three diverse locations in                                               connections and commitment?
                                                                                                                  Queensland, choosing Mount Isa, Townsville and                                        •A
                                                                                                                                                                                                          re youth justice reforms ensuring children’s
                                The Family and Child Commission Act 2014 (the                                     North Brisbane for their different remoteness                                          rights, well-being and safety are being upheld
                                Act) requires the QFCC to promote and advocate                                    classifications‡ and demographics. This allowed                                        and protected?
                                for the safety and well-being of children and                                     for more in-depth consideration of any variances
                                young people, particularly children in need of                                    in common factors, such as front-line service                                       One of the Oversight Strategy’s three impact
                                protection or in the youth justice system.9                                       provision, police arrest data, or media attention.                                  areas is system reliability, from which the first
                                                                                                                                                                                                      question was drawn. The strategy takes a rights-
                                The Act requires QFCC commissioners, in                                           We sought advice from the central offices of                                        based approach to considering how systems are
                                performing their functions, to:                                                   government departments involved in the system                                       monitored. A priority is to deliver the best possible
                                a. engage with, and take account of, the views of                                about recent changes to policies and practices                                      outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
                                    children, young people and their families;                                    supporting youth justice reform.                                                    children and families and promote a responsive
                                b. ensure the interests of Aboriginal people and                                                                                                                     system enabling Aboriginal and Torres Strait
                                    Torres Strait Islanders are adequately and                                    To ensure consistency, we developed                                                 Islander people’s self-determination.
                                    appropriately represented;                                                    conversation plans for a series of interviews with
                                c. respect and promote the role of Aboriginal                                    government and non-government stakeholders.                                         We sought evidence of:
                                    and Torres Strait Islander service providers in                               These interviews focused on activities and                                            • a ctive partnerships in the system
                                    supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander                              projects relating to two pillars of the Working                                       • r eliability of the system (whether it is
                                    families and communities to protect and care                                  together Changing the Story: Queensland Youth                                            consistent, easy for end users to understand,
                                    for their children and young people … 10                                      Justice Strategy (2019–2023) (the Youth Justice                                          and fulfilling its remit to divert children away
                                                                                                                  Strategy), which are to:                                                                 from the youth justice system)
                                Because of these functions, this report is                                           • Keep children out of court. (pillar 2)                                           • t rust in the system
                                particularly focused on the rights of children                                       • Keep children out of custody. (pillar 3)11                                       • a ctive commitment to improving the lives of
                                and young people and their families in the                                                                                                                                 young people and their families
                                youth justice system, and gives attention to the                                  We chose these pillars because of the significant                                     • t he upholding of children’s rights, as outlined
                                significant over-representation of Aboriginal and                                 number of new government initiatives funded                                              in the Queensland Human Rights Act 201913
                                Torres Strait Islander children in Queensland’s                                   in 2019 that related to them and because of the                                         and the United Nations Convention on the
                                youth justice system. (They make up 45 per cent                                   QFCC’s interest in considering initiatives intended                                     Rights of the Child.14

†
  In November 2020, the Department of Youth Justice was merged with the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women to form the new Department of Children, Youth and Multicultural Affairs
                                                                                                                                                                                                      We sought views about the causes of the
‡ The Australian Bureau of Statistics classifies Mount Isa as remote, Townsville as outer regional, and North Brisbane as major city.                                                                 over-representation of Aboriginal children and

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Changing the Sentence - Overseeing Queensland's youth justice reforms - Queensland Family & Child ...
Introduction                                                                                                             Introduction

                               Organisations that provided information.

 Organisation                  Region/s         Type             Organisation role                                    Organisation                Region/s     Type             Organisation role

 Aboriginal & Torres Strait    Brisbane         Community        Provides a range of health care services for the     Multicultural Australia     Brisbane     Non government   Multicultural Australia provides welcome and
 Islander Community Health                      controlled       Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.                                                             support to more than 5000 newly arrived
 Service (ATSICHS)                              organisation     It also delivers youth justice and family services                                                             Queenslanders every year, including refugees,
                                                                 for young people and families who have had                                                                     migrants, international students and people
                                                                 contact with the police, court or youth justice                                                                seeking asylum.
                                                                 system.

                                                                                                                      Murriwatch                  Brisbane     Community        Helps to divert from custody; makes cell visits.
 Aboriginal Torres Strait      Brisbane         Not for profit   ATSILS provides professional and culturally                                                   controlled
 Islander Legal Services       Mount Isa        (federally       competent legal services for Aboriginal and Torres                                            organisation
 (ATSILS)                      Townsville       funded)          Strait Islander people across Queensland.

                                                                                                                      Operation Regenerate—       Brisbane     State            A bail compliance program to help break the cycle
 Act for Kids                  Brisbane         Non government   Provides therapy and support services to children    Queensland Police Service   Townsville   government       of offending.
                                                                 and families who have experienced, or are at risk
                                                                 of child abuse and neglect
                                                                                                                      Forensic Child and Youth    Brisbane     State            A specialist service for consumers who are
                                                                                                                      Mental Health Services—                  government       currently involved in, or at risk of involvement in,
 Multi-agency                  Brisbane         State            An alternative schooling model for disengaged or     Queensland Health                                         the criminal justice system.
 re-engagement ASDAN                            government       at-risk young people.
 program (MARA)—
 Department of Education                                                                                              Queensland Program of       Brisbane     Non government   Provides flexible and culturally sensitive services
                                                                                                                      Assistance to Survivors                                   to promote the health and well-being of people
                                                                                                                      of Torture and Trauma                                     who have been tortured or who have suffered
 Kurbingui                     Brisbane         Community        Provides mentorship, including after-hours street    (QPASTT)                                                  refugee-related trauma prior to migrating to
                                                controlled       support and education for the Aboriginal and                                                                   Australia.
                                                organisation     Torres Strait Islander communities.

                                                                                                                      Specialist multi-agency     Brisbane     State            An initiative facilitated by Youth Justice to
 Life without Barriers (LWB)   Brisbane         Non government   Provides care and support services across            response teams (SMART)      Mount Isa    government       coordinate staff from government agencies to
                                                                 Australia in urban, rural and remote locations.                                  Townsville                    discuss specific cases of young offenders and
                                                                 Currently funded through a social bond to support                                                              make referrals for health and other supports, with
                                                                 young people in breaking the offending cycle and                                                               the aim of reducing offending and reoffending.
                                                                 become valued members of the community.

                       16                                                                                                                                                                                                              17
Introduction                                                                                                         Introduction

 Organisation               Region/s     Type             Organisation role                                       Organisation                 Region/s     Type             Organisation role

 Youth Advocacy Centre      Brisbane     Non government   Provides legal services, youth support and family       Injilinji Youth Health       Mount Isa    Community        Provides a life skills program to disengaged/
 (YAC)                                                    support assistance and services to young people,        Service—Aboriginal and                    controlled       disadvantaged youth. Influences existing
                                                          particularly those who are involved in, or at risk of   Torres Strait Islander                    organisation     health services to accommodate the needs of
                                                          involvement in, the youth justice and/or the child      Community Health                                           the Mount Isa young people by facilitating a
                                                          protection systems; and/or are homeless or at risk                                                                 greater understanding of their culture. Helps
                                                          of being homeless.                                                                                                 with transitioning young people into their own
                                                                                                                                                                             accommodation or a safe living place.

 Youth and Family Support   Brisbane     State            Youth and family support services for children
 Services— Youth Justice                 government       aged between 10 and 17 years who are at risk of         Mount Isa Transitional       Mount Isa    Non government   Connects at-risk youth with after-school activities
                                                          offending or reoffending.                               Hub—North-West                                             and support services to help reduce youth crime
                                                                                                                  Queensland Indigenous                                      rates.
                                                                                                                  Catholic Services
 Kummara Association        Ipswich      Community        Provides a range of support and education
                                         controlled       services for individuals and families.
                                         organisation                                                             Mt Isa Family Support        Mount Isa    Non government   Community-run centre with a mission ‘to enable
                                                                                                                  Service and Neighbourhood                                  people within our community to connect with
                                                                                                                  Centre (MIFSSNC)                                           each other, learn how to be physically and
 Centacare North            Mount Isa    Non government   A social services ministry of the Catholic Diocese                                                                 mentally well, build self-reliance, and improve their
 Queensland                                               of Townsville aiming to promote the well-                                                                          national supports of family, friends, workmates and
                                                          being and resilience of individuals, families and                                                                  neighbours’.
                                                          communities.

                                                                                                                  Alcohol, Tobacco and Other   Mount Isa    State            ATODS provides a range of services including
 Community Connect          Mount Isa    State            A project facilitated by the Queensland Police          Drugs Service (ATODS)—                    government       intake and assessment, outpatient (ambulatory)
                                         government       aimed at improving community safety and                 Queensland Health                                          withdrawal, opiate substitution program,
                                                          reducing youth-associated crime in Mount Isa.                                                                      Diversionary and Recovery Team (DART),
                                                          Government agencies meet to share information                                                                      counselling and assessment for youth and
                                                          about at-risk youth.                                                                                               adults, health promotion, needle and syringe
                                                                                                                                                                             program, and culturally appropriate support and
                                                                                                                                                                             stakeholder engagement.
 Gidgee Healing             Mount Isa    Community        A health service for Aboriginal peoples and Torres
                                         controlled       Strait Islander peoples in Mount Isa, the Gulf and
                                         organisation     the north-west.                                         Save the Children            Mount Isa    Non government   Runs education and child protection programs
                                                                                                                                               Townsville                    in urban, regional and remote locations across
                                                                                                                                                                             Australia.
 Headspace                  Mount Isa    Federal          Headspace centres act as a one-stop-shop for
                            Townsville   government       young people who need help with mental health,
                                                          physical health (including sexual health), alcohol
                                                          and other drugs or work and study support.
                                                          Headspace provides online and phone counselling
                                                          services and vocational services.

                       18                                                                                                                                                                                                       19
Introduction                                                                                                           Introduction

 Organisation                   Region/s     Type             Organisation role                                     Organisation                Region/s   Type         Organisation role

 Department of Seniors,         Mount Isa    State             Provides whole-of-government leadership,             Department of Children,     Central    State        Assists children and families to be safe and to
 Disability Services and                     government       coordination and monitoring in policy, program        Youth Justice and                      government   thrive in culture and communities, free from abuse
 Aboriginal and Torres Strait                department       and service delivery for Aboriginal and Torres        Multicultural Affairs                  department   and neglect. Also responsible for multicultural
 Islander Partnerships                                        Strait Islander Queenslanders and is responsible                                                          affairs, the redress scheme for Queensland
                                                              for seniors and disability services.                                                                      survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, and
                                                                                                                                                                        youth justice.

 Young People Ahead (YPA)       Mount Isa    Community        Provides support to young people experiencing
                                             controlled       homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless.         Department of               Central    State        Helps Queenslanders who need access to
                                             organisation     Also supports young people exiting from statutory     Communities, Housing and               government   housing, improves social well-being of people and
                                                              care.                                                 Digital Economy                        department   places, provides initiatives to make the most of
                                                                                                                                                                        information and communication technology and
                                                                                                                                                                        grow the arts sector.
 Edmund Rice Flexi School       Townsville   Non government   Provides young people with an opportunity to
                                                              engage in education in a flexible, supported
                                                              learning environment. The young people have           Department of Education     Central    State        Education services to ensure Queensland’s
                                                              typically experienced one or more significant                                                government   education systems are aligned to the state’s
                                                              and complex educational, social, developmental,                                              department   employment, skills and economic priorities. Also
                                                              psychological, health, legal or familial situations                                                       responsible for industrial relations and racing.
                                                              demanding unique responses.

                                                                                                                    Queensland Health           Central    State        Provides leadership and direction for the
 Tiddas Yarning Circle          Townsville   Community        A community of women who meet to share ideas                                                 government   health sector, and encourages innovation and
                                             controlled       and support each other.                                                                      department   improvement in the delivery of health services.
                                             organisation

                                                                                                                    Department of Justice and   Central    State        Responsible for administering justice in
 Townsville Aboriginal and      Townsville   Community        Provides culturally appropriate health care that      Attorney-General                       government   Queensland. Also responsible for women’s policy
 Islander Health Service                     controlled       encompasses physical, social, emotional, cultural,                                           department   and prevention of domestic and family violence.
 (TAIHS)                                     organisation     spiritual and economic well-being.

                                                                                                                    Queensland Police Service   Central    State        Responsible for community safety and crime
 Townsville Stronger            Townsville   State            Formed to help break the cycle of youth crime                                                government   prevention.
 Communities Action Group                    government       by dealing with underlying issues that lead some                                             department
 (TSCAG)                                                      young people to offend. The group of state
                                                              government representatives targets identified
                                                              repeat offenders and coordinates services for
                                                              at-risk youths and their families. Chaired by
                                                              Queensland Police Service.

                         20                                                                                                                                                                                                21
Introduction                                                                                                                Introduction

          Given Covid-19 intra-state travel restrictions,                   after-school activities and connects at-risk                                      Out of scope                                                                         the consistency of their stories, were factors we
          most of our stakeholder interviews were                           young people with support and services to                                         This report does not specifically consider the                                       balanced against the small sample when we were
          conducted via video or audio call. We were able                   assist them and to help drive down crime                                          following matters:                                                                   determining how to reflect their views in this
          to make one introductory visit each to Mount                      rates                                                                                 • y outh detention centre operations.                                           report.
          Isa and Townsville before travel restrictions were             – the Specialist Multi-Agency Response                                                     Queensland’s youth detention centre
          introduced. Throughout the report we have                         Team (SMART), which is a partnership                                                     operations were the subject of an                                             The QFCC will continue to seek out and hear the
          included direct quotes from young people and                      between the Department of Youth Justice;                                                 independent review in 2016,15 and other                                       voices of children and young people about their
          from organisations on the front line of the youth                 Queensland Health; the Department of                                                     reviews of youth detention facilities were                                    experiences in the youth justice system.
          justice system. We also received second-hand                      Education; the Department of Child Safety,                                               conducted in New South Wales, the Northern
          reports and reviewed youth justice, police and                    Youth and Women; cultural representatives                                                Territory, Victoria and Western Australia
          education data that indicated children are not                    and other services as needed, to assist with                                             between 2017 and 2019.16 The QFCC, with
          getting the help they need in a timely way.                       coordinated care, decision making, and                                                  the Australian Children’s Commissioners
                                                                            support of young people in the youth justice                                            and Guardians, published a statement on
          We logged all interview transcripts and coded                     system                                                                                  conditions and treatment in youth justice
          them into themes relating to the two main                                                                                                                 detention in November 2017.17
          questions listed earlier (relating to trust, reliability,   Taken collectively, the material provides a rich                                            • p rocesses and systems relating to young
          collaboration and children’s rights).                       insight into Queensland’s youth justice system                                                 people on ‘dual orders’† with both Child
                                                                      from multiple perspectives.                                                                    Safety and Youth Justice. Due to its broad
          As part of its analysis, the QFCC:                                                                                                                         scope this work considered recent reforms
                                                                      1.3 Context, scope and limitations                                                             and the system, rather than particular groups
               • captured the perspectives of young people                                                                                                          of children.
                  through interviews with them and their              Context
                  families                                            This report was prepared during a period of                                             Limitations
               • invited front-line services and families to         heightened community awareness about youth                                              Hearing the views and perspectives of children
                  contribute to an illustration of the youth          crime in Queensland, with regular reporting in the                                      and young people is a critical aspect of the
                  justice system from their perspective. (Visuals     media and commentary by Queensland politicians.                                         QFCC’s role. Early in the project, we contracted an
                  are sometimes easier than words.)                   In April 2019, there was an exposé on children in                                       agency to engage with and speak to a group of
               • commissioned a media analysis report to             the Brisbane watch house.                                                               young people who had experiences in the youth
                  consider public perspectives on youth justice                                                                                               justice system. Unfortunately, this coincided with
                  reforms and young people in the system              In May 2019, Youth Justice was separated from                                           the introduction of Queensland’s most significant
               • analysed data to provide a snapshot of young        the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women                                         COVID-19 restrictions.
                  people involved with the youth justice system       and made a stand-alone department. In November
               • studied the following three reform initiatives      2020, following a state election, youth justice was                                     The inability to travel, as well as changes to how
                  in greater depth:                                   merged within the Department of Children, Youth                                         some face-to-face services operated during this
               – Operation Regenerate, which is a Queensland         Justice and Multicultural Affairs.                                                      period, made it harder for QFCC staff to speak
                   Police Service initiative that helped 224                                                                                                  with community groups, clients of services and
                   young people to comply with their bail             COVID-19 restrictions were in place from the end                                        young people in general.
                   conditions                                         of March, limiting our ability to conduct face-to-
               – Mount Isa Transitional Hub, which provides          face interviews.                                                                        These restrictions meant only six young people
                                                                                                                                                              with experience of the youth justice system
                                                                                                                                                              were directly interviewed. While we accept this

“Refer young people to support services the first time they
                                                                                                                                                              small group does not speak for all children in the
                                                                                                                                                              youth justice system, the views of these young

go to court. Help children to go to school so they can learn
                                                                                                                                                              people are not often heard and this, along with

to read”. - Young person interview                                                                                          † A child who is concurrently on an order under the Child Protection Act 1999 and a youth justice order or program is on a ‘dual order’—available from Practice Resource; Youth Justice: an overview,
                                                                                                                            https://www.csyw.qld.gov.au/resources/childsafety/practice-manual/practice-resource-youth-justice.pdf, viewed 30 November 2020.

          22                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  23
2. The Queensland
youth justice system

                       The Youth Justice Act has five objectives.
                       One of them is to recognise the
                       importance of families and communities
                       in the provision of services designed to
                       rehabilitate and reintegrate children who
                       commit offences.

     24                                                             25
2. The Queensland youth                                                                                           The Queensland youth justice system

justice system
    2.1 Overview                                           The United Nations Convention on the Rights of                   In addition, there are numerous community
                                                           the Child (the Convention)22 is also fundamental                 controlled organisations and non-government
    The Youth Justice system in Queensland deals           when considering how effectively a large system                  organisations that specialise in providing support
    with children aged from 10 to 17 who have, or are      supports children and young people. The                          for at-risk young people and their families. Under
    alleged to have, committed a crime. The minimum        Convention, signed and ratified by Australia                     a cross-agency approach, these agencies seek to
    age of criminal responsibility in Queensland is 10,    in 1990,23 proclaims not only a child’s right to                 address the complexities of offending behaviour
    so children under that age who commit a crime          appropriate health and education but also the                    in children and young people. These complexities
    cannot be formally dealt with by the Queensland        right to be involved in decisions affecting them                 are compounded by the fact that Queensland
    Police Service or courts.                              and to have their opinions taken into account.                   is a vast state geographically, with considerable
                                                           This includes during judicial or administrative                  regional variation in demographics and service
    The Youth Justice Act 199218 (the Act) is the basis    proceedings (Article 12).                                        availability and delivery.
    for administering youth justice in Queensland,
    including court proceedings. It recognises the         Other organisations                                              In 2018, Bob Atkinson (special advisor to the
    importance of children’s families and communities,                                                                      Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women) was
    particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander     The Queensland youth justice system is broader                   asked to produce an independent report on youth
    communities, in the provision of services designed     than just Youth Justice itself, and is made up of                justice.24 This identified four pillars:
    to:                                                    many funded government and non-government                        1. Intervene early
    i. rehabilitate children who commit offences; and    services designed to help children to stay out                   2. Keep children out of court
    ii. reintegrate children who commit offences into     of court and out of custody. The aims of these                   3. Keep children out of custody
          the community.19                                 services include assisting children and young                    4. Reduce offending.
                                                           people to have a safe place to live, engage in their
    A Charter of Youth Justice Principles (the             local community (including school) and address                   In response to this, Queensland released its first
    Charter), appears at Schedule 1 of the Act and         their health needs and behaviours.                               youth justice strategy in December 2018.
    is intended to underpin its operation.20 The first                                                                      A $320 million package of initiatives was
    principle of the Charter is that the community         In Queensland, the following government entities                 announced in April 2019 to support the strategy.
    should be protected from offences. The remaining       are strongly involved in the youth justice system,               It was followed in July 2019 by a Youth Justice
    20 principles elaborate on appropriate ways to         having early contact with at-risk young people                   Strategy Action Plan 2019–21,25 identifying which
    deal with children, including children with an         and their families before they are known to Youth                government agencies would take the lead on
    Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background, as    Justice:                                                         specific actions.
    well as victims and parents.                              • the former Department of Child Safety, Youth
                                                                 and Women (now the Department of Children,                 The following timeline outlines the sequence of
    It is clear from the Act and the Charter that                Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs)                   events over the last two years.
    administration of justice is only part of the             • the Department of Education
    expectations of the youth justice system and              • Queensland Health (including hospital and
    that child rights, diversion (from the youth justice         health services)
    system) and rehabilitation are also important             • the Department of Justice and Attorney-
    elements.                                                    General
                                                              • the Queensland Police Service.
    Queensland’s Human Rights Act 2019, which came
    into effect on 1 January 2020, is another important    The departments of Communities, Housing
    and relevant piece of legislation.21 It includes a     and Digital Economy and Seniors, Disability
    number of rights directly relevant to the broader      Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
    youth justice system, in particular relating to        Partnerships are also involved in leading or
    families, culture, equal protection before the law,    supporting projects in the youth justice system.
    criminal proceedings, education and health. The        The appendix to this document provides a
    Human Rights Act applies to public entities and        summary of the role of government agencies in
    to non-government organisations and businesses         the youth justice system.
    performing a public function.

    26                                                                                                                                                                           27
2018                                    2019                                               2020                                                           2021
                                                                                                  J anuary - March 2020, there were frequent media              26 January 2021, a stolen
                                                                                                   reports about bail laws not working and about                 car driven by a 17-year-

                                                                                           Jan

                                                                                                                                                          Jan
                                                    30 April 2019, the investment of               Operation Regenerate in Townsville                            old struck and killed a
                                                    $320 million was announced for                                                                               Brisbane couple and their
                                                    expanding youth detention centres             Operation Regenerate was modified in Townsville                unborn child.
       12 February 2018 onwards,                    and funding sector initiatives, with          so that the work was now done by Police Liaison
       young people aged 17 were                    a big focus on diversion and on               Officers.                                                      5 February 2021, a
Feb

                                                                                           Feb

                                                                                                                                                          Feb
       included in the youth justice                supporting children in meeting                                                                                Townsville resident
       system instead of the adult                  their bail conditions. Funding for            10 March 2020, the Queensland Premier, with                     pursuing a stolen car,
       criminal justice system                      Specialised Multi-Agency Response             the Minister for Police and Corrective Services                 lost control and killed a
                                                    Teams (SMART) panels, Operation               and Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women,                 motorcyclist. At time of

                                                                                           Mar
                                                    Regenerate and the Mount Isa                  announced a ‘hard line on youth crime’ that                     writing the resident had
                                                    Transitional Hub were included in             included ‘tougher action on bail’, as part of a ‘five           been charged with murder.
                                                    this tranche, to commence from                point plan’.
                                                    July.27                                                                                                      9 February 2021, the
                                                                                                  1 2 March 2020, the Queensland Government                     Queensland Government

                                        May April
                                                                                                   announced it would appeal court decisions around              announced tougher
                                                                                                   bail ‘where appropriate’.                                     action on repeat youth
                                                                                                                                                                 offenders, including
                                                                                                  17 March 2020, the Queensland Government                       legislative changes, a
                                                                                                  made a decision to amend the Youth Justice                     presumption against bail,
                                                    13 May 2019, Inside the watch                 Act 1992 ‘as it relates to youth bail’.                        assurances from parents
                                                    house went to air. This was an ABC                                                                           and guardians prior to
                                                    Four Corners exposé of children               7 June 2020, four teenagers died when                         release on bail, electronic
                                                    held for lengthy periods in the               a stolen car, driven by a 14 year-old,                         monitoring devices (GPS

                                                                                           June
       8 June 2018,                                Brisbane watch house.                         crashed in Townsville.                                         Trackers) for offenders
Jun

        Atkinson Report                                                                                                                                          aged 16 and 17; and
        on Youth Justice                            17 May 2019, a new stand-alone                17 June 2020, Parliament passed an                             announced a Youth Crime
        was released.                               Department of Youth Justice was               amendment to the Youth Justice Act                             Taskforce to implement
                                                    established.28                                1992 to change ‘may’ to ‘must’ when                            the new measures.
                                                                                                  refusing bail to young offenders at risk to
                                        July

                                                                                           July
                                                                                                  themselves or others.
                                                    25 July 2019, the Youth Justice
                                                    Strategy Action Plan 2019–21 was              1 July 2020, the successful tenders were
                                                    released.                                     announced for three programs for young
                                                                                                  repeat offenders to spend time ‘On
                                        Aug

                                                                                                  Country’†.

                                                    28 August 2019, the Queensland                July 2020, an incident of child rape in
                                                    Parliament passed the Youth                   a remote community was made public,
                                                    Justice and Other Legislation                 highlighting the lack of specialist

                                                                                           Sept
                                                    Amendment Act 2019, clarifying                services for victims and offenders
                                                    that concerns around a child’s                in remote communities and the
                                                    accommodation cannot be                       consequential impact on families.
                                                    considered a reason to refuse bail.
                                                                                                  30 July 2020, a new national Closing the

                                                                                           Oct
                                                                                                  Gap agreement took effect.
       5 December 2018 the Smith                   17 December 2019, the Youth
        report, Townsville’s voice:                 Justice Amendment Act (passed in              September 2020, additional police sent
        local Really26 community                    August) came into effect.                     to Townsville with a focus on recidivist
        concern about youth crime in                                                              offenders.
        Townsville.
                                                                                                  31 October 2020, Palaszczuk government
       1 1 December 2018, Working                                                                re-elected.                                                     † The program also includes intensive case
       Together, Changing the                                                                                                                                          work support for Aboriginal and Torres
Dec

                                        Dec

                                                                                           Dec
                                                                                                                                                                         Strait Islander young people who are
        Story: Youth Justice Strategy                                                             December 2020, the Queensland                                     repeat offenders or have high or complex
        2019–23 was released.                                                                     Government announced supervised                                 needs. Information available at https://www.
                                                                                                                                                                     youthjustice.qld.gov.au/aboriginal-torres-
                                                                                                  community accommodation houses for                                    strait-islander-young-people/country-
                                                                                                  young people on bail would be closed.                                    programs, viewed 18 February 2021.

       28                                                                                                                                                                                                 29
The Queensland youth justice system

                                                                                                     2.2. Numbers and characteristics of                                                     In 2018-19 in the two Queensland youth detention
                                                                                                           young people in the youth justice                                                  centres, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
                                                                                                           system                                                                             young people accounted for 71 per cent of
                                                                                                                                                                                              detainees.37 At every escalation of statutory youth
                                                                                                     On any given day in Queensland,                                                          justice intervention, the percentage of Aboriginal
                                                                                                     approximately 1,64329 young people aged 10–17                                            children or Torres Strait Islander children involved
                                                                                                     are on community supervision in the statutory†                                           increases.
                                                                                                     system and a further 252 are in custody30. This
                                                                                                     represents 0.4 of one per cent of the 512,416                                            In Mount Isa, the proportion of Aboriginal children
                                                                                                     people in Queensland aged 10–17. Of the                                                  and Torres Strait Islander children in the overall
                                                                                                     young people who have had a finalised court                                              population aged 10–17 is 26 per cent, while
                                                                                                     appearance, 45 per cent have never returned                                              in Townsville it is 12 per cent. However, of the
                                                                                                     to the statutory youth justice system.31                                                 children in contact with the police, 92 per cent
                                                                                                                                                                                              in Mount Isa and 58 per cent in Townsville are
                                                                                                     In 2018–19, 4,716 individual young                                                       Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.
                                                                                                     Queenslanders committed at least one proven
                                                                                                     offence. Of these, 61 per cent were property                                             Of children under Youth Justice supervision in
                                                                                                     offences. Only seven per cent were violent                                               Mount Isa between 2015 and 2019, an average of
                                                                                                     offences.32 In 2019–20, 10 percent of young                                              93 per cent were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait
                                                                                                     offenders committed 48 per cent of proven                                                Islander children, while the figure over the same
                                                                                                     offences.33                                                                              period was 78 per cent in Townsville.
                                                                                                                                                                                              In 2019, 100 per cent of children in Mount Isa
                                                                                                     In Queensland, Aboriginal and Torres Strait                                              under the supervision of Youth Justice were
                                                                                                     Islander children account for seven per cent of the                                      Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, while the
                                                                                                     total population of 10–17-year-olds, but in 2018–19,                                     figure was 90 per cent in Townsville.38
                                                                                                     they made up 45 per cent of young offenders.34
                                                                                                     Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged                                      2.2.1. Children with complex behaviours
                                                                                                     10–17 also made up 14 per cent of children in
                                                                                                     contact with the police in 2018–19, compared to                                          Within Queensland’s small group of young
                                                                                                     three per cent for non-Indigenous children.35                                            offenders, there is an even smaller group of chronic,
                                                                                                                                                                                              repeat or serious offenders. These small cohorts
                                                                                                     In 2019, there were 19,422 children who had                                              need more intensive help beyond that provided by
                                                                                                     formal‡ contact with and received a Queensland                                           many diversion programs because of a combination
                                                                                                     Police Service action. They accounted for about                                          of factors that may include drug or alcohol
     Tem qui conecti bearchi llautati dolore mil                                                     four per cent of children aged 10 to 17. This was                                        dependency, school or employment problems, and/
     molupit omnis destis et quat fugitatenist eiuntis ea                                            the lowest number of children in contact with
                                                                                                     police in the past five years (2015–2019). In 2019,
                                                                                                                                                                                              or an absence of appropriate care and support.

     se adi rem. Ab int facium rempos sit aut estio offic                                            children aged 10 to 14 represented 30 per cent                                           Our analysis suggests that community fear
     testibus a del imincti commolorio. Ut re ventur                                                 of this cohort. The percentage of children aged
                                                                                                     10–14 formally in contact with police in 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                              of these groups may be amplified by media
                                                                                                                                                                                              attention. In order to make a difference to children
     rereprestiam rest, ulparum qui ut que net qui vid                                               accounted for 46 per cent of children in Mount                                           and young people like these, the support provided
      In Queensland,
     quatint           Aboriginal
              expella borerec       and Torres
                                aborum           Strait
                                         facil exeratur,                                             Isa, 34 per cent in Townsville and 27 per cent in
                                                                                                     North Brisbane.36
                                                                                                                                                                                              by the system needs to start earlier in their lives
                                                                                                                                                                                              (well before they enter the formal youth justice
      Islander
     unti      children
           con ratem    account
                     quatem        for seven
                               iditiatur adit, per  cent of the
                                               sinihil                                                                                                                                        system) and continue for longer.
      total population
     lecepelescid       of 10–17-year-olds,
                   modiciis  in rem facesenbut      in 2018–19,
                                               ihillatium  re
      they
     ex     made up 45 per
         es doluptatem      cent of young offenders.
                        voluptas”
                                                                  † That part of the youth justice system controlled by the Youth Justice Act 1992.
                                                                  ‡ ‘Formal contact’ refers to children who have received a QPS ‘action’, including but not limited to; a caution, a restorative justice conference, a notice to appear and an arrest.

30                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       31
The Queensland youth justice system

                                                                         Location                        Percentage of those                   Percentage aged                   Percentage under
                                                                                                         aged 10–17 in this                    10–17 in contact                  Youth Justice
                                                                                                         location who identify                 with Queensland                   supervision in this
                                                                                                         as Aboriginal and/or                  Police Service in this            location who identify
                                                                                                         Torres Strait Islander                location who identify             as Aboriginal and/or
                                                                                                                                               as Aboriginal and/or              Torres Strait Islander
                                                                                                                                               Torres Strait Islander

                                                                         Mount Isa                       26                                    92                                93

                                                                         Townsville                      12                                    58                                78

                                                                         Queensland                      7                                     44                                55

                                                                    Figure 2: Average number of children under Youth Justice supervision between 2015 and 2019

                                                                                                                                                           from geographically remote locations were
                                                                                                                                                           six times more likely to be under youth justice
                                                                                                I think we deal with it [chronic offending]                supervision as those from non-remote locations
                                                                                                better now than what we have. I think that                 and that children from the lowest socio-economic
                                                                                                there have been some big improvements, but                 areas were 10 times more likely to be under
                                                                                                I still don’t think that we’re really targeting the        supervision.
                                                                                                kids that are chronic offenders.
                                                                                                GOVERNMENT STAFF MEMBER                                    Eighty per cent of Queensland’s young offenders
                                                                                                                                                           have reported using at least one drug or volatile
                                                                                                                                                           substance (such as sniffing solvents, aerosols or
                                                                                             We were told by interviewees in Townsville that               petrol) and 63 per cent have experienced or been
                                                                                             there are 10–20 youth crime leaders and another               affected by domestic and family violence. Fifty-six
                                                                                             30–40 followers, and that this group may drive                per cent have a mental health and/or behavioural
                                                                                             45–50 per cent of Townsville’s youth crime.                   disorder (diagnosed or suspected) and 53 per
                                                                                             Given this is a small number of young people                  cent are disengaged from education, training or
     Tem qui conecti bearchi llautati dolore mil                                             and families, there is an opportunity for them to             employment. 40
     molupit omnis destis et quat fugitatenist eiuntis ea                                    receive specialised, intensive intervention and
                                                                                             support.                                                      Figure 3 shows the cascade of direct and indirect
     se adi rem. Ab int facium rempos sit aut estio offic                                                                                                  risk factors that may lead to an increased risk of
     testibus a del imincti commolorio. Ut re ventur                                         It is now well understood, both in Australia and
                                                                                             internationally, that youth offending is closely
                                                                                                                                                           involvement in the youth justice system.

      Aboriginal and/or
     rereprestiam          Torres Strait
                    rest, ulparum    qui utIslander
                                            que netyoung
                                                       qui vid                               linked to disadvantage. Children who offend are               2.2.2. Trajectory of younger children in
      people expella
     quatint  aged 10–14   are more
                      borerec         likely
                                 aborum       to be
                                           facil     in contact
                                                 exeratur,                                   more likely to have experienced child abuse and                       the youth justice system
                                                                                             neglect, disability, mental illness, drug and alcohol
      withcon
     unti  the ratem
                policequatem
                       than non-Indigenous        children in
                                iditiatur adit, sinihil                                      abuse, exposure to crime and violence, and                    Queensland Police Service data shows that
      the same agemodiciis
     lecepelescid    group, with   this
                              in rem     even more
                                      facesen          likely re
                                                 ihillatium   for                            homelessness.                                                 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander young
                                                                                                                                                           people aged 10–14 are more likely to be in contact
      those
     ex      aged 10–11. voluptas”
        es doluptatem                                                                        Atkinson39 reports research finding that children             with the police than non-Indigenous children in

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