Ms Farmer said programs such as forcing young offenders to conference with their victims were proven to work.
Ms Farmer said programs such as forcing young offenders to conference with their victims were proven to work.

Youths to face a fate worse than detention

MORE Queensland children will be forced to face their victims as punishment for their crimes, as part of a strategy the State Government hopes will eventually render detention centres unnecessary.

Child Safety Minister Di Farmer will today release the Government's response to former Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson's youth justice report, pledging to work to keep children out of detention and out of court.

News Queensland can reveal the Government will commit to various reforms, including widening the use of restorative justice programs such as making young offenders conference with their victims and expanding other early intervention programs.

Fewer children would be placed in detention while on remand under the plan and the state's Youth Justice Act would be reviewed.

But Ms Farmer said those who committed serious crimes such as assault, rape or murder would be punished as the courts saw fit.

"We know the community wants young people to be accountable for their actions," the Minister said.

"But they also don't want them to reoffend and if we put kids in detention they are almost guaranteed to reoffend.

"We need to do the things that work. We can't just keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect the outcome to be any different.

"In NSW it took 10 years to close down detention centres. I'd love to think that we weren't having to put kids in detention centres, especially if it doesn't work. That's a long-term goal."

Child Safety Minister Di Farmer.
Child Safety Minister Di Farmer.

Ms Farmer said programs such as forcing young offenders to conference with their victims were proven to work.

"The kids will tell you they actually hate doing that. That they would rather go to detention than actually do that," she said.

"There has been a 79 per cent reduction in kids either reoffending or reducing the magnitude of their offences."

Ms Farmer said the Government would release its firm action plan next year with an initial target of reducing reoffending by 10-15 year olds by 5 per cent by 2021/22.

The strategy will be reviewed in 2023 to see if it makes a difference.

The Government has committed to other recommendations of the Atkinson report, including exploring the expansion of drug diversion for children for drugs other than cannabis.

Police will also be encouraged to make better use of diversion programs in the first instance, rather than prosecuting young offenders.

More bail support services will be rolled out under the plan to reduce the number of children being placed on remand when they otherwise would be allowed out on bail.

Ms Farmer said the aim was to intervene at the start when young offenders first had contact with the youth justice system. She said it was to make sure "that they are actually being held accountable in a way that is going to change their behaviour because the evidence shows that if you stick them in detention then they actually become criminalised".

"We've got to make sure that the kids who are at that really serious offending stage, that the community is actually kept safe, but we want them to not come back," she said.



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