News & Media

Adult Barwon prison 'totally inappropriate' for teenage offenders, advocate warns MediaMedia ContactsMedia Contacts Media Contacts

Media organisations seeking comment on Smart Justice for Young People issues should contact:

Tyrone Connell

Acting Convenor of Smart Justice for Young People

Federation of Community Legal Centres
Direct Ph: (03) 9652 1501
E: [email protected]

The views expressed in Smart Justice for Young People media releases and media comment do not necessarily reflect those of all its member organisations and should not be taken as such.


March 2018

ABC Radio News  March 6 |  Victorian Youth Justice Inquiry finds a rise in remand, significant failures in system


Law Institute Jornal Flip book March 2018  March  6 |  Follow NT’s lead to raise criminal age


SJ4YP Blog  March 7 |  New youth justice reports highlights how punitive responses don’t work

February 2018

SJ4YP Blog  February  5 |  The conversation Victoria has to have....putting youth crime to bed...


Law Institute Journal Flipbook March 2018 February  6 |  Youth workers not police needed in schools.


The New Daily (Rachel Eddie) February  6 |  Police in schools: Jury out on Matthew Guy’s plan to end youth crime


December 2017

3AW Drive (Nick McCallum) December 7 |  Angry callers react to push for youth ‘criminal age’ to be lifted

SJ4YP Blog December 14 |  Federal parliamentary migration report makes unfounded call to cancel young offenders’ visas

November 2017

SJ4YP Blog November 22 |  Victoria must heed lessons from NTRC- national reform needed to reform broken youth justice systems 

September 2017

Melbourne City Mission (Vicki Sutton CEO) via SJ4YP Blog September 18 |  How Education is unlocking potential for kids in youth justice

August 2017

SJ4YP Blog, August 7 |  Major youth justice review sends clear message to Victoria: kids must come first

SJ4YP Blog, August 14 |  Victorian Government must realign its youth justice agenda in light of major review

Jesuit Social Services - Justice Solutions Tour blog

In June 2017, Jesuit Social Services toured the USA and Europe to identify best practice solutions for working with young people in contact with the justice system. Highlights and learnings were documented in the blog posts below: 



June 2017

SJ4YP Blog, June 7  |  Youth Justice Reforms, PSO Bill: A Joint Open Letter to the Attorney-General and Ministers Mikakos and Neville

3AW Drive, June 7  |  What makes a person look suspicious? Tom debates with for Children's Commissioner Bernie Geary

Pro Bono News, June 12  |  Grave Concerns Over Youth Justice Reforms

The Age, June 13  |  Victoria's proposed detention of suspected extremists attacked as rights abuse

Weekend Sunrise, June 24  |  Tackling Youth Crime: Should young offenders be treated like adults?

May 2017

ABC (David Lewis), May 5  |  Victoria Police should face new case over racial profiling of African men, lawyer says

ABC RN, Background Briefing (David Lewis), May 7  |  Machetes, migrants, and misinformation: why Africans are copping the blame for Melbourne crime wave.

SJ4YP Blog, May 9  |  Bail system report: balancing support for kids and protection for communities

SJ4YP Blog, May 11  |  It’s indisputable: Victorian Government must get kids out of Barwon adult prison

SJ4YP Blog, May 24  |  Youth justice reforms miss the mark, risk further harm to the community

April 2017

SJ4YP Blog, April  |  Adult prison is no place for kids, youth advocates say

ABC AM (Danny Tran), April 5  |  Youth justice advocates say alleged treatment of teenage inmates in a Victorian maximum security adult prison is 'horrifying'

ABC AM (Stephanie Corsetti), April 22  |  More anger over use of adult jail in Victoria

March 2017

The Victorian Law Institute Journal (Karin Derkley), March 2017  |  Lawyers fear youth crackdown

February 2017

The Victorian Law Institute Journal, February 2017  |  Time to reinvest in justice

SJ4YP Blog, February 6  |  Youth justice fix must be rehabilitative and age appropriate

The Age (Farrah Tomazin), February 11  |   Building a bridge to a new life: the other side of the youth crime debate

December 2016

SJ4YP Blog, December 5  |  Youth justice reforms must tackle the causes of youth offending

SJ4YP Blog, December 15  |  Report confirms fewer children in the youth justice system but more measures needed to prevent vulnerable young children offending

SJ4YP Blog, December 30  |  Youth justice advocates share serious concerns about victorian governments decision to re-gazette Barwon prison's Grevillea Unit

November 2016

SJ4YP Blog, November 15  |  Youth advocates warn against transferring young people into adult prison

ABC News, November 17  |  Adult Barwon prison 'totally inappropriate' for teenage offenders, advocate warns

Croakey & #JustJustice ebook (by Tiffany Overall), November 27  |  Youth Justice Reinvestment: Invest in communities, not prisons

SJ4YP Blog, November 29  |  Children's rights advocates welcome move to stop transfer of young Aboriginal offenders to adult prison, but call on Victorian Government to go further

October 2016

SJ4YP Blog, October 1  |  More work needed to encourage downward trend in young offenders

The Age (Chloe Booker), October 10  |  Name and shame plan for violent repeat offenders slammed by youth advocates

ABC News (Sarah Farnsworth), October 13  |  Naming and shaming youth offenders could fuel gang crime: Victoria Police Commissioner

September 2016

SJ4YP Blog, September 20  |  Victorian eyes are on Bourke,s new approach to reducing crime

August 2016

3CR Done by Law, August 2  |  Youth Detention in the Northern Territory’, with Ariel Couchman (Director, Youthlaw)

Youthlaw Blog, August 4  |  Youth crime wave needs smart complex responses not hysteria 

July 2016

SJ4YP Blog, 26 July  |  Community lawyers and advocates voice strong support for royal commission into youth detention

May 2016

SJ4YP Blog, May 3  |  Changes to bail laws will help not hinder

April 2016

The Age, April 23  |  Victorian Budget: state-wide push to divert youth from a life of crime

SJ4YP Blog, April 26  |  Victorian 2016/7 budget invests in intervening early to reduce youth crime

February 2016

SJ4YP Update, February 2016

October 2015

SJ4YP Blog, October 1  |  More work needed to encourage downward trend in young offenders

SJ4YP Blog, October 8  |  The latest youth parole board report

SJ4YP Update, October 2015

September 2015

SJ4YP Blog, September 17  |  Ombudsman calls for an alternate approach to reduce crime

July 2015

SJ4YP Blog, July 21  |  It's time for a new approach reducing deep seated disadvantage and crime

June 2015

SJ4YP Blog, June 22  |  The best approach to crime prevention is early  intervention

SJ4YP Update, June 2015

February 2015

The Age, February 2  |  Andrews Government to introduce youth diversion program

SJ4YP Update, February 2015

November 2014

SJ4YP Update, November 2014

October 2014

Government makes election commitment to youth diversion

Sunday Age, October 25  |  Election push to help teenage lawbreakers avoid conviction

3CR Done by Law, October 28  | Developments in youth diversion in Victoria

August 2014

SJ4YP Update, August 2014

May 2014

Statements from SJFYP Coalition Member Organisations Regarding Young People and the Federal Budget 2014

Jesuit Social Services - Federal Budget 2014: A vision for an unjust society that abandons its most vulnerable

Youthlaw - Budget Cuts Hit Young People the Hardest

Media on Youth Diversion and SJFYP

Almost a month after Youth Diversion Works was launched and there has been some great media attention on Youth Diversion, and on the Smart Justice for Young People Coalition's calls for its continued funding.

Melbourne MX, April 29  |  Teen crime risk in budget

ABC Online, April 29  |  Lobby group calls for funding for programs to keep young people out of jail

Geelong Advertiser, May 1  |  Geelong youth diversion program needs cash in State Budget

April 2014

SJFYP launches a new video about youth diversion - Youth Diversion Works

On April 29th Smart Justice for Young People launched a video, Youth Diversion Works, profiling two young people who have successfully completed diversion, and turned their lives around.

At the launch more than 30 youth and legal organisations called on the Victorian Government to ensure all young Victorians can access youth justice diversion.

The launch media pack can be downloaded here, or you can watch the video, Youth Diversion Works, here.

March 2014

Excellent report on youth diversion on ABC Radio's AM program. Like and share if you think we have waited long enough for the Victoria government to make a commitment and invest to keep successful diversion programs like Right Step for young offenders going.For the report see Succesful young offenders program could be closed from lack of govt. funding.

February 2014

Article by Lee Carnie, Lawyer, Youthlaw, in the Star Observer Tough on crime mantras are a furphy and harmful  5 February 2014.

December 2013

SJFYP welcomes the first step by Victoria Police towards zero tolerance of racial profiling

Victoria Police have released a three-year action plan in response to the inquiry which examined Victoria Police policy on field contacts (including their use of stop and search powers) and their cross-cultural training. The plan includes encouraging first steps to stamping out racial profiling practices including a review of field contact policies, a trial of receipting, creation of unconscious bias training packages. For more see Victoria Police response

In releasing the response, Commissioner Lay stopped short of acknowledging systemic racial profiling and discrimination in Victoria Police. However, he acknowledged that some members had racially profiled and that this practice is not acceptable. Read SJFYP blog.

See related media stories by ABC News and the Age.

ABC 774 talks to a young participant of the 'Right Step' diversion program about how the program turned his life around

In an interview with ABC Radio's Rachael Brown, 'Mark' tells how scared he was to be facing court for the first time as a fifteen year-old and how the 'Right Step' diversion program has given him a second chance to "get out there in life and start something positive." Tiffany Overall urges Government to urgently invest in a statewide diversion scheme. Read the full transcript of his interview here.

November 2013

As SJFYP briefs parliamentarians on the need for guaranteed diversion of children from the justice system, Government quietly funds 1200 new prison beds

As State Government expenditure on 1200 additional prison beds has come to light, advocacy group Smart Justice For Young People is anxiously awaiting the introduction of a legislated scheme to divert children and young people away from a justice system in which they can become entrenched and progress to adult offending.

September 2013

Victoria Police flag some changes in procedures and training

Having received 68 submissions in response to the public inquiry, Victoria police have publically flagged they are considering changing procedures that allowed police to stop individuals who they suspected might have committed an offence.

Mr Lay said police might introduce a receipt system to ensure that people who were stopped and searched were given a reason and a record of when it occurred.

They are also looking at strengthened training and have said it might be necessary to make internal investigations more transparent.   See full article.

August 2013

Protective costs order will allow young man to bring complaint against police to court

Four years ago, Nassir Bare (then 17 years old) was bashed and racially abused by police.  He has now been granted a protective costs order in the Court of Appeal (limiting the potential costs he would have to pay IBAC and the Attorney-General to $5,000) which means he can now continue his fight for the courts to recognise his right to an independent investigation of how he was treated by police.

July 2013

Inquiry into Victoria Police stop and search policy

Victoria Police have commenced their public inquiry into two key policies that shape their interactions with the community, particularly culturally and linguistically diverse groups and the Aboriginal community: its field contacts policy ('stops and searches') and its cross-cultural training program.

See the Smart Justice for Young People's submisson to the Victoria Police Inquiry “Safeguards against discriminatory policing.”

June 2013

Letter to Herald Sun in response to youth crime rates article

An article claiming data shows a youth crime problem in Victoria did not present the full picture of youth offending and its causes, according to Smart Justice for Young People. In a letter to the editor of the Herald Sun, Smart Justice for Young People pointed out the high numbers of young victims of crime and the role of family violence in the increase in assaults. The high number of low level offences committed by young people, such as travelling without a valid ticket, were also omitted from the article. Read the full letter to the editor and original article published Monday 3 June 2013.

May 2013

State Budget fails to invest in addressing youth crime

The Victorian State Government continues to deliver on its 'law and order' election commitments, rather than investing in alternatives to prison that enhance community safety. Alternative sentencing measures, such as youth diversionary programs, address the causes of crime and are more likely to achieve long-term results with offenders. Smart justice solutions are good for the community and good for government.

April 2013

Put young people in the picture: Justice reinvestment options for Australia

A Senate inquiry into the value of justice reinvestment for Australia, after widespread adoption of the scheme in the UK and USA, was used by Smart Justice for Young People to emphasise the importance of investing early in young people to prevent future offending.

Justice reinvestment schemes typically involve a commitment to reducing prison populations and using these budgetary savings to invest in community services in high-crime areas. The submission from Smart Justice for Young People argued that investment in services for young people and adults was essential to prevent a future generation of offenders from emerging.

Read the full submission here

Read the Smart Justice fact sheet on Justice Reinvestment here

February 2013

Public inquiry to help end racial discrimination in policing is welcome

Smart Justice for Young People welcomes news of a public inquiry into Victoria Police's stop and search practices and encourages all young Victorians to get involved.

The inquiry is the result of a lengthy race discrimination action by six young African-Australians in the Federal Court. More details of this historic settlement with Victoria Police are here

December 2012

PSOs targeting the homeless & disabled with fines in Melbourne

New figures suggest that Protective Service Officers (PSOs) on Melbourne's rail network are not using their discretionary powers when issuing fines, resulting in thousands of notices being issued in a 3 month period. Many of these notices have been given to vulnerable people, including the homeless, people with mental health issues and those with a disability. Legal experts say this is not what the public was promised under the PSO scheme and questioned the community safety benefits of issuing multiple infringements.

October 2012

Legislation best way to ensure equal access to youth diversion programs

The current flaws in Victoria's youth diversionary system - inconsistency, inequity and a lack of access & coordination - could be solved through new legislation that protects young people's right to be diverted from the criminal justice system and its negative repercussions. Smart Justice for Young People and Youthlaw both put forward this argument in their responses to the State Government's Diversion Discussion Paper 'Practical Lessons, Fair Consequences'. Their submissions also recommend that diversion programs are adequately funded by Government. Dedicated funding is required for graduated, tailored & culturally appropriate diversion options, ranging from low level activities to more intensive case managed interventions.

To download the Smart Justice for Young People submission click here.

To download the Youthlaw submission click here.

Youthlaw is Victoria’s state-wide free community legal centre for young people under 25 years of age.

April 2012

Best way to lower crime is to prevent it

More police, harsher sentences and tough new laws are only tackling crime after the fact rather than preventing it from occurring in the first place, according to Michael Holcroft, President of the Law Institue of Victoria. Looking at the causes of crime - disadvantage, mental health issues, drugs and alcohol - and then addressing them is the smart way forward.

Search receipts essential to address racial profiling by police

Professor Ben Bowling, an expert on police accountability, spoke at a community event in Flemington on the need for Victoria Police to adopt a receipting process for every search they perform, similar to the UK's system. Receipts provide data, transparency and confidence to the community that police are using their powers responsibly and fairly.

March 2012

Tasers a costly option, in more ways than one

Smart Justice for Young People is opposed to the issuing of Tasers to Victoria Police and believes the weapons will generate significant costs for the force in terms of both money and reputation. Tasers have been linked to the death of several individuals in Australia and overseas, and carry significant risks when used on young people, those affected by drugs and alcohol and those with heart conditions. Smart Justice for Young People is calling on Victoria Police to severely restrict the use of Tasers on young people and to publicly release the evaluation of its 12-month Taser trial, in the interests of accountability and transparency. Read our media release here.

February 2012

Know your rights with Protective Services Officers

Smart Justice for Young People is a partner of Your Rights on Track, a community legal project aimed at supporting commuters who may be affected by the roll out of Protective Services Officers (PSOs). PSOs are armed guards who have similar powers to police when they are on duty at train stations. The Baillieu Government has pledged to recruit 940 PSOs by 2014, with 2 PSOs being assigned to every metropolitan train station and to major regional stations, to patrol the stations and their surrounds from 6pm to after the last train, 7 days a week. Find out more about PSOs here, here and here.

Your Rights on Track, coordinated by the Federation of Community Legal Centres in partnership with Smart Justice for Young People and the Mental Health Legal Centre, is taking the lead by providing information to train travellers about PSO powers and their rights as commuters.The project will also monitor the introduction of PSOs, provide feedback to the Government and Victoria Police, and keep the media and the general community informed of any issues that arise with the PSO roll out.

Your Rights on Track have developed wallet size cards outlining the powers of PSOs and where to go for more information or help. To obtain wallet cards, please contact Michelle McDonnell, Project Manager of Your Rights on Track. There is also a Facebook page where commuters can find out more about PSOs and share any experiences they’ve had with PSOs on the rail network.

Through educating vulnerable groups and those who work with them, Your Rights on Track hopes to achieve respectful, accountable and human-rights compliant interactions between PSOs and the public.

November 2011

Smart Justice for Young People has been launched

Smart Justice for Young People - a new group hoping to dispel the myths surrounding youth justice - was launched at the Law Institute of Victoria on Wednesday 16th November 2011. The group advocates for smarter, not necessarily tougher, approaches to crime. The group is particularly interested in addressing the often-strained relationship between police and young people.

Spokesperson for the group and Co-Director of Youthlaw, Tiffany Overall, described the Smart Justice for Young People as a group that ”aims to encourage political parties and public authorities to develop policies and practices effecting children and young people that are age-appropriate, non-discriminatory, and evidence based.”

President of the Children’s Court, Judge Paul Grant outlined approaches of deterrence and detention and called for a move toward diversion and rehabilitation for young offenders.

To conclude the launch a young Ethiopian woman, Hannah Faseeha, shared a compelling account of discrimination within her community and expressed concerns about the level of accountability of police, and their knowledge about diverse groups of young people.

Footage of each of the speakers can be viewed here.


Inquest into the police shooting of Tyler Cassidy

On Wednesday 23rd November, the State Coroner Judge Jennifer Coate handed down her findings from the inquest into the death of 15-year old Tyler Cassidy. Tyler was in a state of emotional and mental distress when police fatally shot him almost three years ago.

The Coroner made strong recommendations to Victoria Police to:

Smart Justice for Young People wholeheartedly endorses these recommendations and makes several additional ones including:

Read Smart Justice for Young People's media release on the Cassidy inquest

Background Information
Smart Justice for Young People has prepared a background paper on the need for age-appropriate responses from police. This paper stresses that adolescent brain development, young people's vulnerability, and a person's mental health are all relevant considerations when police respond to incidents involving young people. The paper identifies these areas as lacking in current Victoria Police training and recommends that this be addressed.

The Federation of Community Legal Centres' background paper highlights the high rate of police shootings in Victoria and the high proportion of these that involved a person with mental health issues. The paper makes a number of recommendations for reducing shootings by Victoria Police. The Federation of Community Legal Centres has also prepared a table of the 10 police shootings that have occurred since Tyler Cassidy's death. The table includes the age of the victim and circumstances surrounding the incident, and shows that there have been 9 reported non-fatal police shootings and 1 fatal shooting since Tyler’s death in December 2008.



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