The Commissioner for Children and Young People has called for a strong focus on diversion and improved collaboration between agencies to address the increasing numbers of young people in detention in Western Australia.
In an issues paper Youth Justice released today, Commissioner Michelle Scott recommends a rapid increase in services and programs, including mental health, employment, drug and alcohol, and education, to address the underlying causes of young people’s offending behaviour.
Ms Scott said WA has an increasing number of children and young people in detention whereas numbers in some other states are declining.
Other changes recommended include:
- Establishing of a network of community-based safe houses where at-risk children can seek refuge.
- Funding for culturally-appropriate programs to address the significant over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people in contact with the justice system.
- Ensuring a State-wide 24 hour bail service for young people.
- Rapid expansion of the forensic mental health service currently being trialled at the Children’s Court.
- Investment in education, training, mental health and drug and alcohol programs for young people in detention, aimed at reducing recidivism.