Enquiry into Alternatives to Secure Detention for Youth in Tasmania
YNOT Submission to the Commissioner for Children’s Enquiry into Alternatives to Secure Detention for Youth in Tasmania
This issue has long been of concern to YNOT and its members. YNOT has been a contributing member to the Ashley Youth Detention Centre Advisory Group, the Youth Justice Amendment Act Steering Committee and is now a member of the Youth Justice Management Group. The organisation has also actively lobbied on many areas concerning the legal rights of young people, including police searches of young people.
According to the National Children and Youth Law Centre’s (2004) Consultation Paper on Australia’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, “juvenile justice is an issue that is often the subject of political rhetoric and miss information. These ’law and order actions’ can lead to punitive laws which do not accord with the Government’s stated aims of crime prevention and rehabilitation.”
YNOT submits that a youth justice system for Tasmania should explicitly address those international agreements to which Australia is a party that address rights of juveniles and young people in the criminal justice system. In particular, YNOT would draw attention to the following specific rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:
• “Sentencing should promote reintegration and rehabilitation. Special programs should be created to divert, young offenders away from Court where appropriate, but these must safeguard children’s legal rights.” (Article 40)
• “Detention must be used only as a last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time. Children should not be detained with adults, must have access to legal assistance, and the right to maintain contact with family.” (Article 37)
Therefore, YNOT’s recommendations focus strongly on early intervention and prevention from crime to ensure that young people, to the greatest extent possible, avoid the prospect of detention.