Giving young people a second chance works
For many years, Victoria led the country in supporting kids in trouble. There was a common understanding across sectors, including Government, police and community, about holding young people who offend accountable while giving them the chance to make amends for their actions.
As a direct result of this approach, we saw long-term decreases in first time and repeat offending. We saw more children and young people reconnecting with family, education, employment and other opportunities.
What has changed?
We have seen a negative shift towards harsh punishments that close the door on kids early, and less investment in proven programs that give them a second chance in life and support them to take advantage of that opportunity.
For example, we have seen kids placed in adult prison, longer sentences, more kids locked up in remand (unsentenced), and the erosion of the successful ‘dual track’ system whereby young people aged up to 21 years can be placed in Juvenile Detention.
This has made it harder for everyone trying to work with kids in crisis, including parents, teachers, carers, youth workers and health professionals. That means worse outcomes for young people and the community.
What does this mean for our communities?
Not only are we inflicting greater harm on kids through these policies but we are undermining the long-term safety of our community. Instead of helping kids to get their lives back on track, we are setting them up for a lifetime of social and economic exclusion – and that hurts all of us.
We are asking the people of Victoria to join with us to call for the youth justice system our community deserves.
We believe young people are #WorthASecondChance.