The latest national Report on Government’s Services (RoGS) shows Queensland is on the right track with Youth Justice reform.
Queensland youth detention centre injuries as a result of an assault have reduced to below the national average, at 4.2 per 10,000 custody nights in 2018/19, below the national average of 4.7.
Detention centre utilisation rates also decreased 7.2% to 89 percent in 2018/19 as a result of increased bed capacity, with the number of beds available increasing during that financial year from 212 to 240.
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer said community safety was the government’s top priority which is why record investment has been directed towards detention centre infrastructure upgrades and new programs to reduce offending and re-offending.
“The community expects that young people are held accountable for their actions and so do we,” she said.
“That is why we are increasing capacity at our youth detention centres, including the construction of a new 32 bed facility at Wacol, and investing in new programs to prevent and reduce crime
“We committed $177 million in 2019 to ensure increased bed capacity at Queensland youth detention centres, with a total capacity of 306 detention centre beds to be available by the end of 2020.
“Detention centres are challenging and complex environments but investment in more beds, security upgrades and staff recruitment and training all contribute to a safer environment for young people, staff and visitors.”
In 2018, 17-year-olds were transitioned into the youth justice system resulting in an increase in the average nightly population of young people in detention centres and an increase in the average daily rate of supervision for young people in detention and in the community.
Despite the introduction of 17-year-olds, community supervision rates remain in line with 2014/15 and 2017/18 figures.
Queensland’s vast and diverse geographical areas, as well as demographic divergences, also impact results in comparison to other states.
Ms Farmer said the government has invested half a bllion dollars towards youth justice initiatives, had created a new stand-alone Department of Youth Justice in May and had introduced many new early invention programs to reduce offending and reoffending.
“Reforming youth justice is challenging and will take time to see lasting change but we are committed to long term solutions to break the cycle of crime and get young people back into education, training and jobs,” she said.
“As a result of record investment, we’ve implemented new early intervention programs, youth after-hours services and partnerships with other agencies and community organisations across the state.
“Many of these programs are focused on reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, including community and family-led initiatives.
“We are already seeing good results – 6 out of 10 young people who go through our Transition 2 Success program don’t go on to reoffend, and 77% of young people who go through Restorative Justice either don’t go on to reoffend, or reduce the seriousness of their offending.”
Ms Farmer said it was also important to note that 45 percent of young people who have a finalised court appearance in Queensland never return to the youth justice system.
“We are dealing with a small number of repeat offenders that often have very complex backgrounds and needs as a result of childhood trauma, early drug use and a lack of family support,” she said.
“Their offending behaviour has taken 10 years to develop and it will take time and intensive support to turn their lives around – there is no quick fix.”
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Di Farmer