The Victorian Department of Justice recently released a discussion paper calling for community input into the design and implementation of diversion programs for young people engaged in the criminal justice system.
Unlike many jurisdictions in Australia, Victoria has not adopted a legislative, court-based diversion scheme for addressing crime committed by children and young people. The state has also seen limited investment in diversionary programs and an overreliance on discretionary police cautions. For young people in rural and regional areas, access to diversion programs and support services is especially limited.
Together with Dr Lucinda Jordan from Deakin's Centre for Rural Regional Law and Justice, we are examining the limited diversionary options available in the current youth justice system, identifying strengths and opportunities.
In our view, legislated court-based diversion schemes – assisted by community programs that provide appropriate intervention and support to those at risk of reoffending – are an essential means of addressing young people’s engagement in crime.
We recently provided a brief response to the Department, and look forward to sharing the project's findings in due course.