STANDING COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES – Youth justice centres

Youth justice centres

Ms SYMES (Northern Victoria) (12:20:48) — I too would like to make a brief contribution on the tabling of the report today. I think I spoke also on the referral of this reference to the Legal and Social Issues Committee at the time and did raise our concerns regarding the political motivation of the inquiry. But I would say that stakeholders and indeed our very hardworking secretariat did their best to ensure that the inquiry made a positive contribution to youth justice in Victoria. So I would like to extend my thanks and gratitude to everyone who participated in this inquiry with submissions or by coming along to hearings. We did end up with a consensus report, and like other speakers today I would like to thank the other members of the committee for the respectful debates that we had. This report has findings and recommendations that largely replicate the recommendations of the Armytage and Ogloff report. People who have been following the justice space will not find anything particularly new and enlightening in the report, but I would say that I personally found it quite useful and have a much deeper understanding of this space.

The hearings for the current inquiry concluded some months ago, and the Department of Justice and Regulation has implemented many changes since it assumed responsibility for this policy area. In August 2017 the government released the Ogloff‑Armytage report. It accepted or accepted in principle all 126 recommendations and committed $50 million to respond to the most pressing recommendations. That investment will support a new custodial operating model to better manage young people in custody, greater workforce capability by providing better training and a targeted recruitment campaign, 21 additional safety and emergency response team staff and a new risk and needs assessment system to reduce the risk of reoffending, and it addresses Aboriginal over‑representation by employing additional Aboriginal liaison officers. Since the inquiry concluded it has become evident that the government’s changes in youth justice have had a stabilising effect, and we are committed to continuing in that regard.