Queensland Law Society

QLS welcomes youth justice reforms

Queensland Parliament last week passed two important bills for youth justice – with many of the reforms being advocated for by Queensland Law Society and the Society’s president Bill Potts.

“The Society’s recommendations on these Bills were based on evidence showing that reforms would reduce the rate of re-offending, which is the best possible outcome for all concerned,” Mr Potts said.

The Youth Justice and Other Legislation Bills 2015 and 2016 contain amendments including making the detainment of a child in custody a last resort, increasing the age at which children and young people are subject to periods of detention in adult corrections facilities from 17 to 18, and empowering a court on application to delay a young person’s transfer for up to six months.

“The Society commends the introduction of the amendments in this Bill which aimed at rectifying the position under the 2014 Act,” Mr Potts said.

The new Acts also expand the definition of a sentence order to allow new sentences imposed as a result of a child’s contravention of their original sentence order to be reviewable under the Youth Justice Act.

The Children’s Court of Queensland will also have their power to review sentences handed down by Children’s Court magistrates reinstated, and will be closed when hearing all youth justice matters under the Children’s Court Act 1992.

“Youth justice conferencing is also particularly welcomed as the youth offender can meet their victims and realise the effect of their actions. It is a very valuable tool to change criminal behaviours,” Mr Potts said.

Mr Potts also said that the previous government’s “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” approach cost Queensland taxpayers more and lead to higher re-offending rates.

“No-one is saying that young people shouldn’t be held responsible for their wrongdoing, but it is important that they are given the chance to atone for their actions and be rehabilitated," Mr Potts said.

“It is good to see that the Government was listening.”