Seventeen-year-old criminals will soon be dealt with as youths, rather than adults, in an historic change to Queensland’s justice system.
The State Government last night passed a Bill amending the Youth Justice Act to apply to 17-year-olds who break the law. The change to the law will begin at the end of 2017, after a 12 month transition period.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the legislation ended decades where Queensland was out of step with the rest of Australia.
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“For more than 20 years, there’s been a lack of resolve in Queensland to take the critical first step in addressing this problem,” she said.
“Now we have a 12-month timetable to ensure 17-year-olds are dealt with by the youth justice system, as they should be.
“There are many complex and sensitive issues to be addressed to make this change happen. That is why this Bill will commence on proclamation 12 months after its passing – to ensure a measured approach to the transition of 17-year-olds into the Youth Justice system,” said the Minister.
The transitional regulation will contain technical details such as how and when to relocate a 17-year-old, and in what situation a transfer might be delayed.
The Minister added that Youth Justice Queensland is already implementing a range of interventions to help integrate 17 -year-olds into the youth justice system including:
- transition to Success;
- trauma informed practice – recognising the impact trauma can have on a developing brain;
- reinstating Court-ordered Youth justice conferencing;
- conditional bail programs for young people who are at a high risk of re-offending before their court case;
- incentives under the Skilling Queenslanders for Work program.