Juvenile Justice

Principles

The Greens NSW believe that:

1.    The most important principle that should guide juvenile justice policy is the principle that the best interests of the child is the paramount consideration in all actions concerning children and young people.

2.    Children and young people should be allowed to voice their opinions as to what is in their best interests.

3.    Children should have direct input and be directly consulted with regard to policy formation.

4.    There is a link between homelessness, social disadvantage, family dysfunction, child abuse, unemployment and crime.

5.    Early intervention, drug and alcohol counselling, rehabilitation and crime prevention programs need to be supported.

6.    Diversion from the court system and keeping young people in their families and communities of support is important, as outlined in the Young Offenders Act 1997. 

7.    The Government should introduce a network of youth advocates so that young people have access to such advocates when facing cautions or conferences.

8.    Families and extended families should be recognised as the fundamental influence upon children and should be given support and opportunities to participate in the juvenile justice process.

9.    The community and the Government should be made to accept responsibility for young people, and provide support and positive opportunities to enable young people to become valuable community members. This includes an adequately-resourced care and protection system to protect children and support families in crisis.

10.    Where possible and  appropriate to the offence, young people who have offended should be managed within their communities in order to assist their reintegration into the community and to sustain and enhance family and community ties.

11.    All young people should be provided with opportunities to realise their individual potential through appropriate educational, vocational, health and life skills programs.

12.    Young people's needs ought to be incorporated into the planning process, particularly decisions about control over, and the use of public space.

13.    Young First Nations people and young people of non-English-speaking backgrounds come from rich cultural heritages, have special needs and face particular problems, particularly those caused by social and economic disadvantage.

14.    All actions taken with regard to First Nations young people must be consistent with the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

15.    Young people detained on care and protection matters must be separated from those incarcerated on criminal matters.

16.    Children and adolescents should be treated differently from adults, separated from them in the criminal justice system and treated according to their developmental needs and cultural requirements.

17.    Any time spent in detention should be geared towards the time of release, ensuring that appropriate programs and services are available so young people are able to develop appropriate skills and behaviours to enable them to successfully reintegrate into the community.

18.    Young people who are released from detention should have available to them a range of post release services to assist their successful reintegration into the community and to minimise further offending.

19.    All young people accused of committing an offence should be represented by competent professionals who offer understandable legal advice and who ensure the young person's legal rights are protected at every stage of the legal process.

20.    All personnel working in the juvenile justice system (including police officers) should be provided with adequate and appropriate training and development in order to provide a professional service to all juvenile offenders and the community.

21.    Juvenile justice processes and outcomes should be monitored by appropriate accountability mechanisms.

22.    The NSW Charter of Principles for a Culturally Diverse Society should be part of the framework for developing juvenile justice policies, programs and services.

23.    Young women and girls may be subject to discrimination in the juvenile justice system.

24.    Punitive law and order approaches such as move-on laws, systematic strip searches and sniffer dogs entangle young people in the criminal justice system.

25.    Young trans, lesbian, gay, bisexual and non-binary people face systemic disadvantage with the gender-binary nature of our juvenile justice system.

26.    Prisons are not appropriate places for children and young people.

27.    The age of criminal responsibility needs to be raised to 16 years.

Aims

The Greens NSW will work to:

28.    Ensure that any legislation that is enacted incorporates the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the relevant provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

29.    Repeal laws which inappropriately impinge on the civil rights of young people and which are used to harass and intimidate young people.

30.    Enact a State Environmental Planning Policy specifying that councils must take into consideration the needs of young people in the planning process.

31.    Provide leadership and policy support to local councils in developing constructive approaches that work for children and young people.

32.    Increase funding for programs which provide affordable and safe meeting places for young people.

33.    Support protections and remove barriers to young people congregating and socialising in publicly available spaces, both publicly and privately owned.

34.    Ensure police are educated and trained to deal appropriately with young people.

35.    Ensure that selection and training of all persons (including casual employees) involved with juveniles is of the highest standard.

36.    Ensure every effort is made to prevent the transfer of young people from juvenile detention centres to adult jails.

37.    Support the jurisdiction of the Children’s Court being 18 years of age.

38.    Support and work towards a coordinated, whole-of-government approach between the law enforcement, health, community service, education, housing and juvenile authorities and the non-government sector.

39.    Ensure the community is accurately and sensitively informed of the facts relating to juvenile crime and juvenile justice and the rationale behind the Greens' juvenile justice policy.

40.    Increase funding for youth education, training and unemployment support schemes.

41.    Increase funding for safe and suitable crisis, medium and long term accommodation services for children and young people so every child and young person in crisis has a safe place to go.

42.    Ensure that children and young people are consulted regularly regarding the development of policies and programs that affect them.

43.    Ensure that youth programs, services and drop-in-centres are extended across the State.

44.    Improve linkages between children, young people, their families, government agencies and non-government organisations.

45.    Expand and increase funding for youth workers and support services for young people, especially out of school hours services.

46.    Extend to all areas of need, family support services, child care, unemployment support schemes and accommodation services.

47.    Significantly increase funding for drug treatment programs and services.

48.    Expand the Youth Health Centres in order to provide counselling, drug and alcohol counselling and outreach services for all young people requiring these services.

49.    Increase funding for programs for young sex offenders.

50.    Develop and strengthen leisure based programs.

51.    Allocate funding to the Department of Sport and Recreation to ensure that disadvantaged young people have access free of charge to programs offered by the Department.

52.    Conduct research into the area of discrimination in the juvenile justice system with a view to implementing policies which avoid such discrimination.

53.    Set up a State network of Youth Advocates. This could be a role of the Commission for Children and Young People.

54.    Amend the Commission for Children and Young People Act to allow the Commissioner to undertake independent inquiries.

55.    Ensure that security organisations dealing with young people in privately-owned spaces used for public purposes such as shopping centres are not given the power to enforce criminal laws.

56.    Ensure complaint processes for young people are appropriate and accessible.

57.    Support a 24 hour free-call youth telephone advice service funded by Government.

58.    Oppose laws designed to publicly name young offenders.

59.    Ensure there are adequate bail hostel facilities available for young offenders to reduce the incidence of young people being remanded in custody.

60.    Support increased funding for innovative approaches to the graffiti issue such as mural painting.

61.    Ensure juvenile detention centres have appropriate programs and services which enhance young offenders’ well-being such as counselling and drug and alcohol programs.

62.    Ensure juvenile detention centres have adequate programs and services designed to educate, rehabilitate and skill young offenders to enable their successful release into the community.

63.    Ensure adequate remuneration and employment conditions for suitably qualified Youth Conference Convenors.

64.    Raise the age of criminal responsibility to 16.

65.    Supporting and empowering parents, grandparents and carers to provide non-criminal justice pathways for young people who are at risk.

Last revised December 2018