Communities in the Northern Territory have the strength, resilience and wisdom needed to work together to reduce youth crime and improve community safety.
Retributive strategies such as incarceration, increased police presence and curfews fail to reduce crime, and so do a disservice to victims of crime.
By working within evidence-based strategies that address the root causes of youth crime, NT communities can heal division and create a safe future for all.
The NT Greens will pursue an evidence-based approach by:
• Ensuring that First Nations people lead the way in addressing the offending and incarceration of their young people
The vast majority of young people currently incarcerated in the NT are First Nations. Historical and ongoing colonisation has resulted in loss of land, language and cultural systems for managing offending behaviour. We will prioritise youth justice policy initiatives developed in collaboration with First Nations groups, and service provision delivered by First Nations organisations.
• Legislating a target to have no children in detention by 2030
Incarceration is expensive and ineffective. A legislated target will encourage a whole of government approach to pursue our vision of no children in detention.
• Raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years
The NT has the lowest legislated age of criminal responsibility in the country, at only 10 years of age. Treating children and young people like hardened criminals is a sure way to make them hardened criminals. Our emphasis should be on supporting vulnerable youth to avoid a life of crime.
• Implementing all the recommendations of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory
The Royal Commission was clear about the steps that should be taken to minimise the interaction of children and young people with the youth justice system. Youth Justice legislation should be immediately amended to address recommendations around use of force, bail conditions and police powers.
• Ensuring whole of community safety
Strategies to create community safety only work when the whole community is behind the approach. The divisive nature of the current youth justice debate undermines our ability to work together. The experiences of victims of crime must be central to policy initiatives that address any kind of crime.
We will provide more funding to victim-offender conferencing and other initiatives that make offenders accountable for their actions. We will reintroduce specialist youth courts which are designed to deal with youth-specific issues. We will work alongside First Nations leaders and experts in trauma to ensure that police and detention workers are given the support they need to work with young people.