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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 4 Hansard (6 April) . .

Page.. 1183..

Youth justice—blueprint

MR HINDER: My question is to the Minister for Children and Young People. Minister, can you tell us the difference that is being made for young people in the ACT in the context of the youth justice system under the blueprint for youth justice?

DR BOURKE: Thank you for the question. I am pleased to tell you about the difference being made under the blueprint for youth justice in the ACT. I would also like to note the contribution made to this policy by my predecessors, Ms Burch and Mr Gentleman. Since the blueprint's commencement in 2012 we have seen significant reductions in the number of young people in contact with, or becoming further involved in, the youth justice system. We are also seeing fewer young people in detention.

In the first three years of the blueprint we have seen a 20 per cent reduction in the number of young people apprehended by ACT Policing, a 29 per cent reduction in the number of young people under community-based supervision and a 35 per cent reduction in the number of young people in detention. Ultimately, these reductions suggest that youth crime is being prevented and community safety is being improved.

The blueprint forms part of the better services reform that promotes education, justice, health and community services to work together to intervene early and to prevent the need for intensive high-cost service responses. This is the direction that youth justice will continue to take in 2016 and beyond. For the young people who come into contact with the youth justice system, there are a number of programs and initiatives diverting them from detention. For these young people to reach their full potential, they also need to be supported to reconnect with their community.

As such, integration initiatives have been strengthened under the blueprint, focusing on supporting young people in transitioning successfully from the youth justice system. Initiatives contributing to the downward trend include the after-hours crisis service, Narrabundah House, the youth alcohol diversion program, evidence-based practice and case management, restorative justice practices and support for young detainees to transition back to the community.

The early success of the blueprint creates an opportunity to work proactively rather than simply trying to keep up with demand. It allows the youth justice sector to devote more effort to addressing the underlying issues that lead to youth offending to achieve better long-term results.

The newly established Child and Youth Protection Services, which joins the statutory functions of child protection and youth justice, focuses on intervening early when issues arise so that children and young people receive the right service at the right time for as long as they need it. The ACT is the first jurisdiction in Australia to take this step and the shift to better and more effective support for children, young people and their families means that they do not end up needing more intensive support.

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