The Victorian Government’s proposed changes to the youth justice system will deepen the disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal communities in Victoria. The proposed Children and Justice Legislation Amendment (Youth Justice Reform) Bill 2017, which includes increased maximum penalties and weakening the successful dual track system, is a step back for Victoria’s youth justice system and the government’s commitment to closing the gap for Aboriginal people.

“Australian and international youth justice experts consistently argue that incarceration makes young people more likely to reoffend. This ‘tough on crime’ approach will increase recidivism, resulting in poorer outcomes for the safety of our young people and our communities,” says Koorie Youth Council manager Indi Clarke. Investment in community-based prevention and diversion approaches are proven to keep young people out of crime, “we call on the government to listen to experts and amend this Bill to invest in solutions that work.”

The majority of young offenders are victims of crime themselves; having experienced family violence, child abuse and an ineffective out of home care system from a young age. “Turning our back on young people by treating them like adult offenders will not support the next generation to create a strong, safe community. Young people who have faced disadvantage need positive role models and rehabilitation, not harsher treatment.”

On National Sorry Day and the 20th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report, we remember the historical injustices that previous governments have imposed on Aboriginal people. Reforming our system through justice reinvestment is an opportunity to make the positive change that is needed for this generation of Aboriginal people and their communities. The Koorie Youth Council calls on the government to amend the Bill and honour its commitment to addressing the disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal Victorians.

For more information contact Indi Clarke (Manager) 9267 3724, [email protected]

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