Statement on mandatory sentencing a positive step for youth justice in Queensland

Queensland Law Society (QLS) recognises the remarks from the state government which indicate it is not considering the introduction of mandatory sentencing as an option to address youth crime. 

“We are pleased with the comments made by the state government on this topic and acknowledge that it is consistent with our submissions to the government earlier this year,” QLS President Chloé Kopilović said.

During last week’s Estimates hearing of the Legal Affairs and Safety Committee, Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath made the statement in response to questions as to the powers of her office to deliver harsher penalties for repeat offenders. The enquiry cited “ongoing concerns” about courts not using the legislative tools at their disposal.

“We also welcome the Attorney’s statement at Estimates that the government will seek to maintain the discretion of our judicial officers,” Ms Kopilović said.

“We are in agreement with the Attorney, noting her comment that ‘every case is different’ and when governments introduce mandatory sentencing ‘they are taking away the discretion of the courts’ to consider a range of matters.

“We empathise with Queensland communities that are and have been impacted by youth crime, and we continue to appeal to the government to employ evidence-based reforms that will reduce crime in the long-term.

“By investing in communities with high rates of offending, those communities are then empowered to invest in programs and services to tackle the underlying causes of crime.

“This type of re-investment reduces criminal behaviour and recidivism rates, by focusing instead on existing criminal behaviour, and preventing people from entering the criminal justice system in the first place – especially our youth.

“If we are able to operate in this way, all parts of our justice system can work as one to address the issues, preserve the separation of powers and uphold the rule of law.

“QLS remains committed to assisting the government in relation to reforms in the youth justice and criminal justice space.” 

Read our 2020 state election Call to Parties Statement and policy position on mandatory sentencing.

For more information on Queensland Law Society and our advocacy, visit