Child guardian: consultation report youth justice system

Children Youth Youth justice Australia Queensland
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The aim, through collecting data, analysing it and converting it to evidence about outcomes, is to positively influence the service system, so that it is able to better meet the needs of the children and young people who depend on it.

Young people in contact with the youth justice system are among Queensland’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged, and the circumstances that lead to their offending are often complex and cumulative. It is widely acknowledged that those who progress to the statutory youth justice system will have experienced, as a context to their offending, circumstances that include family stressors and dysfunction such as poverty, low parental capacity and abuse or neglect. They may also have experienced personal problems, such as chronic health and wellbeing issues, interrupted schooling and poor educational outcomes.

The complexity of these contextual issues creates challenges in achieving agreement about the risk factors that influence contact with the youth justice system and the best way to prevent them from manifesting or escalating.

In meeting the shared challenges of preventing, diverting and rehabilitating at-risk young people from a trajectory of offending behaviour and progression to the statutory youth justice system, it will be necessary for contemporary evidence about the service system to be readily available to stakeholders. Ideally, at any given point, there should be a shared understanding across the community, government and non-government sectors as to the complexity of reporting on underlying issues, and where energy and effort can most usefully be applied to generating better outcomes for young people at-risk.

This is the Commission’s first consolidated effort to report systemically about the outcomes experienced by young people in contact with the youth justice system. The report explicitly incorporates an invitation to stakeholders to provide their views on how outcomes the youth justice system generates for young people can best be monitored and reported (annually), to achieve an accepted and credible evidence base for advocacy and action.

This consultation report is based upon a proposed framework that incorporates three main service domains: youth offending and prevention services; diversionary services; and supervision, intervention and reintegration services. Indicators and measures have been proposed for each domain, targeted to particular areas of service delivery.

The Commission has a unique role and functions that enable it to independently research and advocate for improvements to the youth justice system to address risk factors, and to monitor and report about the statutory services.

This consultation report has used sample data from the 2008-09 period to provide an example of how the Commission proposes to represent findings from across the youth justice system in its inaugural Child Guardian Report: Youth Justice System 2010-11. This consultation report also discusses current oversight initiatives being undertaken by the Commission relevant to the youth justice system. This information has been used to provide an up-to-date context for comment.

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