Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 5 August 2021) . . Page.. 2363 ..
The ACT government is working closely with government and non-government partners to ensure that this reform results in a positive, holistic outcome for community safety in the territory. This includes consultation with ACT Policing to ensure that police have the necessary powers of intervention to keep children, young people and the community safe at all times.
We want to see young people not only diverted away from the criminal justice system, but also provided with the right social and health supports to improve their overall wellbeing and break the cycle of crime.
A discussion paper has been released for public consultation and will be available for comment until 5 August. Amongst a number of issues, it considers what support services are needed for children and young people who are at risk of harming themselves, or others, including healthcare and emergency accommodation options; what additional powers police should have to deal with children under the revised minimum age of responsibility; and what measures might be needed to protect our community and prevent harm.
When removing criminal justice interventions as an avenue to address the harmful behaviour of children and young people, it is important that the new arrangements continue to keep the community safe, particularly where serious, violent or repetitive harmful behaviours are involved. Alternative mechanisms that allow for appropriate consequences are important for the safety of the community as well as the wellbeing of the child in question and the potential victims involved.
Restorative mechanisms will be important for the success of this initiative, as they support accountability. Restorative justice approaches provide opportunities for people to understand the impacts of their harmful behaviours, for victims to have their experience acknowledged, and for at-risk youth to be reconnected to the community in a positive way.
I am pleased that the government has engaged an independent review team, led by Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur, to conduct a needs and gaps analysis of the implementation requirements of raising the age.
I know that the community will want to ensure that there are appropriate services to address the needs of children and young people engaging in harmful behaviour under a raised minimum age. We must carefully consider what youth, mental health, drug and alcohol and education services and supports will meet the needs of children and young people under this reform. I am pleased to note that the trials of specialised family therapy programs are already underway.
As a government, we are already thinking about the ways that we can tailor wraparound services for children and young people involved in harmful activities, ensuring that they are timely and culturally appropriate.
While the number of those subject to youth justice supervision orders is small, the reality is that ACT Policing officers are working with a much larger group of children