This submission focuses on the rights of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people involved in the criminal, civil and family law systems.
VALS has been particularly concerned for the health and welfare of Aboriginal children in detention during the pandemic, especially the children who have been subjected to isolation and lockdowns
- The Government should raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14, and the age at which children can be detained to at least 16. All youth justice legislative, strategy and policy reforms should incorporate and align with raising the age reform.
- There should be a presumption in favour of bail for all offences, except in circumstances where there is a specific and immediate risk to the physical safety of another person. This should be accompanied by an explicit requirement in the Act that a person may not be remanded for an offence that is unlikely to result in a sentence of imprisonment.
- To prevent the significant impact of COVID-19 specific fines on children and young people, the Victorian Government should withdraw all fines issued through the COVID-19 Directions to children and young people aged 18 and under, and instead prioritise a service, education and health-based response.