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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 12 Hansard (29 October) . .

Page.. 3763..

Children and young people—youth justice

MS BERRY: My question is to the Minister for Children and Young People. Minister, can you inform the Assembly of the government's progress in seeing fewer children and young people engaged in or at the risk of offending?

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Ms Berry for her question and her interest in children and young people across the territory. I am pleased to report the positive progress in this area. It can be demonstrated by outcomes from the Blueprint for youth justice in the ACT. As members of the Legislative Assembly would be aware, the government's approach to youth justice is set out in the blueprint, which was released in August 2012 by my colleague Minister Burch.

This 10-year plan focuses on early intervention, prevention and diversion initiatives to reduce offending by children and young people. Ultimately, the blueprint is about making sure that children and young people are safe, strong and connected.

For young people who are at risk of coming into contact with the youth justice system, intervening at the right time can transform their lives and set young people on a path to a positive and fulfilling adult life. For interventions to work effectively, they need to tackle the problem at the early stages, rather than responding once the problem has become more entrenched.

We can see the results of this approach in the second annual progress report on the blueprint, due to be released shortly. The outcomes achieved under the blueprint continue to demonstrate success in reducing the numbers of young people engaged in or at risk of further involvement in the youth justice system. Over the last reporting year available we have seen reductions in the number of young people apprehended by police, the number of young people under youth justice supervision, the number of young people under community-based supervision, the number of young people in detention and the number of days young people have spent in detention.

This downward trend reflects a sustained collaboration between government agencies and community organisations, in particular the crucial role that ACT Policing and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community play in reducing youth offending. These positive outcomes have been achieved by investing in prevention and diversionary initiatives that we know are making a positive difference for young people.

These initiatives include the after-hours bail support service. As we know, this support assists young people who are on community-based orders to meet their conditions of bail. This may be through arranging transport or suitable accommodation so that they do not need to breach their bail conditions. In 2013-14 the service successfully diverted 39 young people from custody at the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre.

Also, we have got the continued delivery of restorative justice for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and first-time offenders. This process gives

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