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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 6 Hansard (3 Junes) . . Page.. 1672..

Youth justice—blueprint

DR BOURKE: My question is to the minister for children and young people and relates to the prevention and diversion strategies of the youth justice blueprint. Could you update the Assembly on the implementation of these strategies?

MS BURCH: I thank Dr Bourke for his interest. As members would be aware, the government's approach to youth justice is set out in the youth justice blueprint which was released in August 2012. This 10-year plan focuses on early intervention and prevention initiatives to reduce offending by children and young people.

This government is committed to improving outcomes for young people. Since the release of the blueprint we have seen reductions in the number of offences committed by young people, young people in custody, young people under community-based supervision, and the number of days young people have spent in detention. This has been achieved by investing in prevention and diversion. Our aim is to keep young people out of the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre, but when they are in custody, to provide the right support so that they do not return.

Two initiatives that are achieving results are the after-hours bail service and restorative justice. The after-hours bail service began in 2011. It assists young people who are on community-based orders to meet their conditions of bail. In 2012-13 the after-hours bail service received over 670 client-related matters relating to nearly 170 young people. This has resulted in 26 young people being diverted from custody. In recognition of this success, the after-hours bail service won the ACT Public Service Award for Excellence in 2013.

The other initiative where diversion is working well is the increased referral of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, and first-time offenders, to a restorative justice process. Evidence shows that participation in restorative justice can prevent young people from becoming further involved in the youth justice system. Restorative justice gives victims, offenders and their support people a chance to tell their story. Offenders hear firsthand about the harm they have caused and are encouraged to accept responsibility for their actions.

These are just two examples where we can see that intervening early does work to prevent young people from becoming further involved in the youth justice system. The blueprint is having a direct impact. A recent report shows that the number of nights that young people spent in custody fell by 22 per cent, and the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in custody fell by 45 per cent.

While it is early days in the life of a 10-year blueprint, the reforms are being delivered and they are achieving positive results for young people in the ACT.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, could you tell us more about how the government is working to address the issue of overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait

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