Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 524..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
often criticised by people, by victims and perhaps by the police officers involved. It can be terribly frustrating for them.
I have seen it happen because of that clause; they do it as a last resort. Young people get many opportunities, more so even than adults, to mend their ways and courts have historically incarcerated them only as a last resort. In fact, there have been some very valid comments that that is something that should be looked at because it is immensely frustrating to victims and the police, but it is there and Dr Foskey, in terms of what she is trying to put forward, should take great heart from that because that is, in fact, what happens in practice, whether it is right or wrong. The act continues:
(d) young offenders should be dealt with in the criminal law system in a manner consistent with their age and maturity and have the same rights and protections before the law as would adults in similar circumstances-
I do not think anyone can quibble with that-
(e) on and after conviction, it is a high priority to give a young offender the opportunity to re-enter the community;
Indeed, rehabilitation is crucially important. It is a principle of sentencing. It is even more important, and historically has been regarded as such, for young people. Sadly, perhaps the system has not operated as well as it could in terms of rehabilitating young people. But at least there is a recognition that, as far as young people are concerned, that is an incredibly important consideration in terms of any penalty that might be imposed, especially in terms of a custodial penalty. That is why governments of all persuasions have ensured that there is a range of programs to try to rehabilitate young offenders in places such as Quamby. The final paragraph of the section reads:
(f) a balanced approach must be taken between the needs of the young offender, the rights of any victim of the action that constituted the young offender's offence and the interests of the community.
That is a very sensible sentence. By all means, we need to have regard to the rights of the young person, but their rights should not be paramount. What about the rights of the victim, often the forgotten person in the criminal justice system? What about the interests of the community? They are all equally important and competing rights. I think that section 68, apart from a couple of reservations I have with it, is fundamentally a very solid section in this legislation.
The act was looked at. I think that it has been lifted from an older act. I do not think that it was one of the sections amended when the bill was introduced in 1999 and passed, I think, that year. I think that it is far more reflective of what the community would expect than Dr Foskey's amendments. Accordingly, my colleagues and I are more than happy to keep it as it is.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.17): I am not going to speak to my second amendment. I will just close now on this one. I am disappointed that both the government and the opposition are not supporting the amendment. Perhaps they see the amendment more as a matter of semantics than a matter of principle. In moving my amendment, I was considering the convention on the rights of the child and a tendency to put young people