Report calls for a new approach to tackling youth crime

media release

Reducing youth crime in Queensland will only happen with change across  the health, education, family support and legal justice systems, according to a new report issued by the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC).

The QFCC’s Changing the Sentence report delivered 13 findings, including a call to invest in prevention and early intervention programs to help reduce factors contributing to a young person committing a crime. The report also called for specialised services to help the small number of young people already in the statutory system who are responsible for most youth crime.

QFCC Principal Commissioner Cheryl Vardon said the report stemmed from a 2019 Department of Youth Justice request that the QFCC assess the success of youth justice reforms and examine options for future investment. 

“I commend the Department for taking a proactive approach to making sure reforms delivered a reliable and trusted youth justice system and that children’s rights, wellbeing and safety were being upheld and protected,” Ms Vardon said.

“We looked at initiatives designed to keep children out of court and custody and in assessing impacts on children’s rights we believe some are being neglected. 

“There needs to be a shift away from a criminal focus to prevention and we will be briefing government and non-government agencies about these findings and proposed future directions.”

Other report findings included:

  • returning decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the youth justice system to local communities and community-controlled organisations
  • more proactive and early responses to re-engaging children and young people with education
  • revisiting health services provided to vulnerable children and their families, particularly aged under 14.

Ms Vardon said the report shows improving the youth justice system requires a preventative approach, across all services working with children and young people. 

“The research showed us that communication must improve — in the court system, between organisations and families and between police and young people,” Ms Vardon said.

“The report shows targeted interventions in the lives of young people can work but more needs to be done.”

Work to inform the report included 83 meetings and interviews with 125 stakeholders from throughout Queensland such as service providers, government agencies, young people and their families.

To view a copy of the Changing the sentence: Overseeing Queensland’s youth justice reforms report go here.

ENDS

For media information contact:

Kirby Orr | Queensland Family and Child Commission 

Phone: 0432 683 265

Email: kirby.orr@qfcc.qld.gov.au