Source: (2013) Paper presented at Australasian Youth Justice Conference—Changing trajectories of offending and reoffending. National Convention Centre Canberra 20-22 May 2013.

Youth justice is always susceptible to political and populist pressures. It operates in an environment where simplistic and seductive solutions are pressed – e.g. “adult time for adult crime”. So far, Governments in New Zealand have held fast to the principled approach pioneered by our 1989 legislation. The same appears to be the case for the Australian States and Territories. Amidst all the debate and the pursuit of the Holy Grail - the perfect response to youth offending - persistent and consistent themes and trends are emerging both in Australia and New Zealand. These themes are more similar than dissimilar. These themes present enormous challenges. But we have the chance to make some world leading responses. This paper will be a chance to reflect on and explore some of the big themes and trends for youth justice in Australasia. It is important to note that this paper represents only one person’s view, and is written through a judicial lens. There are also undoubtedly many themes and trends that have been missed off this list which might be thought to justify inclusion (e.g. the importance of drug and alcohol treatment, the interaction of the youth justice system with mental health services and the importance of a governance structure – cross agency and ministry led, but involving community groups also). But this list is a start. Imaginative, creative and evidence-based responses to these themes and trends are required. Are we up to the challenge? (excerpt)


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