Queensland Law Society

QLS backs recommendations to overhaul youth justice system

Queensland’s peak legal body has thrown its support behind a report recommending an overhaul of the way Queensland deals with young offenders.

Queensland Law Society President Ken Taylor on Friday (July 13) welcomed the report and recommendations delivered by former Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson – saying the Society had long been advocating for reforms to the juvenile justice system.

“Queensland Law Society has advocated strongly for reforms in this area and we are delighted
Mr Atkinsons’s report has provided a number of recommendations designed to reduce youth crime and to assist and prevent youths from further offending.

“In particular, the Society supports the move to provide continued investment in early intervention to prevent youth offending, keeping minor offenders out of court, reducing the number of youths in detention and options that divert juveniles away from the Youth Justice system.

Mr Taylor said there was little doubt the damage done to youth offenders when exposed to other hardened criminals was difficult to reverse and often lead to a greater chance of them re-offending or spiralling uncontrollably toward a life of crime.

“Apart from the negative social cost and impact of youth detention, we know it is also very expensive to detain the young,” Mr Taylor said.

“The most recent Productivity Commission figures from 2014 show is costs more than $460,000 a year to keep a young person in a detention facility.

“We know that youth offenders have a great chance of rehabilitation if given the opportunity and we are heartened Mr Atkinson’s recommendations support that belief.

Mr Atkinson has made 77 recommendations in his report, including:

  • continued investment in early intervention to prevent youth offending;
  • intervention and support for parents as early as the pre-natal stage;
  • greater collaboration between the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women, the Queensland Police Service and the Children’s Court;
  • more alternative and flexible schooling options for young people at risk of disengaging from education;
  • keeping minor offences out of the court system;
  • reducing the number of young people in youth detention; and
  • options to divert young people away from the Youth Justice system.

“The Society has campaigned long and hard for considerable reform in the youth justice space to guarantee the focus was on preventing crime before it happened rather than inflicting punishment and onerous rehabilitation requirements.

“QLS will continue to advocate for just and workable laws that both protect the community and strike a balance between deterrence and rehabilitation of young offenders.”