Queensland Law Society

Government comes round on YJ conferencing

Date 09 May 2013
Contact Natalie Graeff, Manager Corporate Communication
Phone (07) 3842 5868
Mobile 0488 433 884
Fax 07 3221 9329
Email n.graeff@qls.com.au

Queensland Law Society (QLS) today welcomed the government’s proposed introduction of a community reparation model, similar to the court-ordered youth justice conferencing previously in place.

President Annette Bradfield said QLS questioned at the time removal of court-ordered conferencing when statistics showed an incredibly high success rate.

“98% of participants indicated that the conference was fair and they were satisfied with the agreement,” Ms Bradfield said.

“We’re glad the government has come round and stated it’s looking at a proposal, similar to court-ordered conferencing, for young offenders to make amends to their victims.

“Among the other proposals on the table, the suggestion to make an offence of breach of bail is rather odd as there are already legislative interventions in place to deal with children who breach conditions of bail.

“In addition, the proposal to remove detention as a last resort is completely misguided – not only would it have virtually no impact on reducing repeat offences, it’s also incredibly expensive.

“In fact, the government would experience significant savings through better use of community based service orders.

“Putting this into dollar terms, we have 137 young people in detention each day, at a cost of $660 per child, or $90,420 a day, more than $33 million a year.

“A conservative estimate of the effect of a breach of bail offence and the removal of detention as a last resort could see an increase in the detention population of 10%, or an additional
$3.3 million a year.

“Detention is thirty times more expensive than community based service orders which, based on New South Wales figures, cost about $20 a day per child.

“By addressing issues that underlie the behaviour, diversionary tools can be far more effective in preventing repeat offences.

“There seems to be a trend in some quarters to paint young people as either angels requiring government protection or demons needing our harshest penalties.

“Perhaps a better approach would be to focus on helping young people understand and take accountability for their actions, rather than using extremes to categorise them.