Fixing youth justice as Victoria fails to rehabilitate the youth

Thursday 13 September 2018

Media and Communications Office
A panel event of four expert speakers gathered for ‘Our young people, crime and healing: Fixing youth justice in Victoria’ at Queen Victoria Women’s Centre on Monday. The event was hosted by Jesuit Social Services and responded to the Victorian Auditor General’s Office recent report revealing that youth detention in Victoria is failing to rehabilitate our young people and reduce reoffending. 

The matters discussed included early intervention prior to serious criminal behaviour, rehabilitation programs within a youth detention setting and best practice in transition services to prevent further offending behaviour on release.

The panel included Professor Patrick McGorry, Executive Director of Orygen, Professor of Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and a Founding Director of the National Youth Mental Health Foundation (headspace); Sam Biondo, CEO at the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA); and Craig Holloway, Acting Director of Health and Workforce at Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO). 

Key messages were also delivered by Jesuit Social Services CEO of 14 years, Julie Edwards.

‘Jesuit Social Services has been working with young people in the criminal justice system for over 40 years and we’ve been watching with considerable concern over recent times about the downward, negative pathway the youth justice system is on,’ said Edwards.

‘We stand at a crossroads at the moment – Victoria used to be the leader in this country about how they dealt with young people in trouble. We believe the youth justice system has been neglected – in terms of leadership, vision, staff, the skills and attributes of those staff,’ she explained.

Edwards went on to explain the status of disconnection among young people from refugee backgrounds.

‘Some of the young people we deal with talk about being locked out, there’s a group of young people who are still connected with school and family but come from refugee backgrounds and have experienced trauma and do feel locked out. We need new solutions for those people,’ explained Edwards.

‘We recognise that political parties are not listening to the facts, the evidence, people with expertise. They are listening to media and elements of the community. That’s why we developed the #WorthASecondChance campaign. We all need to step up and take responsibility for the type of society we want to live in,’ she said.

Jesuit Social Services aims to create a just society where everyone can live to their full potential. The organisation collaborates with the broader community to support those in need. Some of these collaborations include working to change policies, practices, ideas and values that perpetuate inequality, prejudice and exclusion.

The organisation provides practical programs and advocacy across five main areas: justice and crime prevention, mental health and wellbeing, settlement and community building, education, training and employment and gender and culture.

To find out more information about Jesuit Social Services or to get involved, visit the website:
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