This paper provides an overview of the changing nature of youth offenders and youth offending and the pressures that these have placed on the youth justice system, as well as the related policy developments of the Andrews Government.
Victoria has long been regarded as the leader in youth justice with significantly lower rates of young people on remand or serving custodial sentences than other Australian jurisdictions. Evidence shows consistently fewer young people are offending each year and young people are responsible for a diminishing proportion of all crime committed in Victoria.
Despite these positive developments, there is a small but increasing cohort of young people exhibiting violent behaviours who are responsible for a disproportionate number of offences.
Youth justice is a complex issue that encompasses important areas of public policy, including systemic disadvantage, community safety, offender rehabilitation and the human rights of children and young people. Youth justice is distinct from the mainstream criminal justice system due to the unique circumstances and the context of youth offending.