Justice Reform Initiative Media Release, 23 November 2022
The Justice Reform Initiative has welcomed the Tasmanian Government’s recently released youth justice reform plan, commending its emphasis on therapeutic justice, early intervention, prevention, and diversion.
The final draft of the Youth Justice Blueprint 2022-2032, released on Tuesday, represents a positive and timely shift towards an evidence-based approach to youth justice.
Under the plan, the Ashley Youth Detention Centre will be closed and alternative pathways in the form of bail support, therapeutic units, and residential options will be available for young people who come into contact with the justice system. Additionally, a whole-of-government and public health approach is proposed to divert children at risk.
Justice Reform Initiative Executive Director Dr Mindy Sotiri described the blueprint as “a critical step in the right direction”.
“It takes political bravery to change direction when it comes to youth justice policy, and the Justice Reform Initiative is really encouraged by the direction of the Youth Justice Blueprint,” said Dr Sotiri.
“It has been clear for many years now that locking up children in places like Ashley has been a harmful and costly policy failure.
“Tasmania has been spending disproportionate and increasing amounts each year detaining children in a system that causes enormous harm to extremely vulnerable populations.
“This blueprint represents an opportunity to fix a broken system by recognising the harm of incarceration for children and acknowledging that a different approach is needed in order to break the cycles of disadvantage and re-offending and build safer communities.
“The evidence is clear, children who are at risk of justice system involvement require access to support, education, care, and connection in the community.
Dr Sotiri said there was an opportunity for the Tasmanian government to further strengthen its youth justice reforms by committing to raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years and fast-tracking the closure of Ashley.
“A significant resourcing shift will be required so that young people who do get caught in the justice system can access effective support and assistance in the community,” she said.
“But by doing so, Tasmania has a real opportunity to lead the nation in turning around the failed youth justice system and ensure that all children have genuine opportunities to build productive, hopeful, and meaningful lives in their communities.
“We look forward to working with the Tasmanian Government and other stakeholders in building a better system that is genuinely based on evidence-based policy.”
For more information and a list of patrons of the Justice Reform Initiative visit https://www.justicereforminitiative.org.au/.
Media contact: Pia Akerman 0412 346 746
The Initiative respectfully acknowledges and supports the current and longstanding efforts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to reduce the numbers of Indigenous people incarcerated in Australia and, importantly, the leadership role which Indigenous-led organisations continue to play on this issue. We also acknowledge the work of many other individuals and organisations seeking change, such as those focused on the rate of imprisonment for women, people with mental health issues, people with disability and others.