The Allan Government has U-turned on last year’s commitment to wind back bail laws for children, instead trialling electronic monitoring bracelets and shrinking away from plans to repeal reverse onus provisions.

Victoria Police have claimed1 this excessive surveillance is an effort to reduce recidivism, but we know that contact with the punitive legal system is what makes a child more likely to reoffend.2

This legal system regularly locks up children who have experienced complex trauma or significant disadvantage, including the mass incarceration of Aboriginal children.

As long as the Victorian Government is taking a criminal approach where they should be taking a constructive one, they are compounding trauma which has lasting health and wellbeing consequences.

If a child does something serious, they deserve equal opportunity to learn about mistakes safely and with support.

YACVic urges the government to abandon ankle bracelets, recommit to their promise of reverse onus provisions for children, and invest in evidence-based supports3, 4 that address underlying trauma and systemic racism.

Quotes attributable to YACVic CEO Mary Nega:

“This is a deeply concerning move from the Victorian Government. Their changed position reverses the onus so that children facing charges must show compelling reason for why they should not be detained while awaiting trial.

“This is an unjustifiable infringement on children’s rights. It disadvantages children who have experienced complex trauma – these are children who require additional supports, not a punitive response.”

“The introduction of ankle monitors on children awaiting trail is also not aligned with what evidence supports and is stigmatising. The common-sense solution is to listen to evidence and medical advice, and invest in better access to mental health care and education, and build the capacity of their families to support them.”

“Health experts also tell us that children’s brains are also not yet developed enough to understand long-term consequences of their actions. Yet the government has decided to maintain reverse onus legislation, requiring children facing charges to prove they have compelling reason for why they should not be imprisoned while awaiting trial. This is not in line with what evidence supports and infringes on the rights of children.”

“In last year’s Coronial Inquest into the death in police custody of Aboriginal woman Veronica Nelson, bail reform was urgently recommended to address the negative impact of bail laws on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. That reform must include Aboriginal children to break the punitive cycle of contact with the legal system.”

Media contact: Media & Communications Coordinator Katia Pellicciotta – 0498 730 553 or

About Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic)

Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) is the peak body and leading policy advocate for young people aged 12-25 and the youth sector in Victoria. Established in 1960, YACVic advocates for the rights of young people in Victoria to ensure they are active, visible and valued in their communities.

  1. ABC News. Youths charged with serious crimes to wear monitoring bracelets under Victorian trial [Internet]. Victoria: ABC News; 2024 Mar 20 [cited 2024 Mar 21]. Available from:
  2. Cashmore, J. 5 reasons why the age of criminal responsibility should be raised [Internet]. Sydney NSW: The University of Sydney; 2020 Jul 28 [cited 2024 Mar 21]. Available from:, J.
  3. Yoorrook Justice Commission. Yoorrook for Justice: Report into Victoria’s Child Protection and Criminal Justice Systems. Victoria: Yoorrook Justice Commission; 2023. 445 p. Report No.: 2.
  4. Woodley, M. Pressure builds on governments to ‘raise the age’ [Internet]. newsGP; 2023 Apr 24 [cited 2024 Mar 21]. Available from: