Page 2053 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 28 June 2023

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Through the 2023-24 ACT budget, the government will continue reforms required to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility and for broader service response to young people who are engaging in these behaviours. This will include funding for programs such as the Functional Family Therapy Youth Justice program for young people.

This is an evidence-based program that has achieved a global footprint across 350 sites, including the US, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, England, Scotland, Denmark, Chile, Norway, Sweden and Australia. The program, for young people aged 11 to 17 years, aims to strengthen family supports and community connections to decrease young people’s involvement in criminal activity and reduce their risk of engagement with the youth justice system. This strength-based program works with the whole family and helps support circumstances where there is complexity or multiple issues for families.

In 2022 the Functional Family Therapy Youth Justice program was independently evaluated by Youth Coalition ACT. The evaluation examined the pilot program in the ACT that was delivered by OzChild between 2021-22. The evaluation examined the delivery and early outcomes of the pilot program, including how well it engaged with the intended target group. It identified key learnings and factors to inform the development of an appropriate service system response that meets the needs of young people at risk of involvement with the justice system and their families.

In doing so, it supported the ACT government to determine that Functional Family Therapy is an effective program to use as part of a service system response to meet the needs of the ACT community. As a result the government has provided ongoing funding to procure a provider to deliver this program through the 2023-24 ACT budget.

It is the quality of service responses such as this, as much as changing legislation, that will determine the success of the minimum age of criminal responsibility reform. While there is still a lot of work ahead to further develop a service system that helps young people, it should be noted that a range of services already exist, and we will seek to build on what we know already works.

DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (3.38), in reply: I would like to thank all colleagues here, particularly the Attorney-General, Mr Cain, and Minister Davidson for speaking in support of this motion today. I really hope that we can see the ACT sit at the forefront of our nation in leading approaches to restorative justice.

As Mr Cain pointed out, this really must always be victim centred and victim driven and needs to account for the fact that victims are diverse, their experiences multifaceted and their needs may change over time. Work by advocates and survivor-led initiatives demonstrate a widely helped desire for a restorative justice option that is especially poignant here in the ACT.

I would like to acknowledge Holly Northam, Convenor of the Canberra Restorative Community, and end with a quote from her today. She states:

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