Youth justice, detention goes to Territory Families


2466 Dale WakefieldLETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – Improving youth justice took another step forward yesterday with the passing of changes to legislation which completes the transfer of responsibility of youth justice and youth detention to Territory Families.
The Youth Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 amends the Youth Justice Act and Youth Justice Regulations to provide Territory Families as the single agency responsible for youth justice and youth detention, separate from adult corrections.
This was a key promise going into the last election and we are doing what we said we would do. Bringing youth justice and child protection under one agency is key to reforming the broken child protection and youth justice systems.
A hallmark of a contemporary youth justice system is the recognition that children are different to adults and much more likely to respond to therapeutic interventions, education and re-engagement in the community. It gets better results and helps get kids on the right path.
The revised Act ensures young people are dealt with in a manner appropriate for their age, level of maturity and with a key focus on trauma-informed care – a principle already endorsed in the Youth Justice Act.
The changes create new statutory positions of Community Youth Justice Officers, who will become part of the recently created Youth Outreach and Re-Engagement teams. They will take over the functions and powers of probation and parole officers.
Importantly they will work collaboratively with the courts, families and the community to get the best outcomes for young offenders.
The transfer of parole and probation functions from Corrections to Territory Families adds to our broader focus on improving bail accountability for young people, providing support and resources to help them meet their bail conditions and divert them from repeat offending and a life of crime.
This legislation is part of our plan to do a full review of the Youth Justice Act, a review that will also be guided by the findings of the current Royal Commission and extensive community consolation.
More than $18m in new funding is being injected into youth justice reforms over the next three years which will allow for the most comprehensive overhaul in the Territory.
The Bill will take effect from January 1, 2018.
Dale Wakefield (pictured)
Minister for Territory Families


  1. Great initiative, Dale. So very important that children and juveniles are supported to make good, positive decisions and are guided through these transition periods of their lives by adults who operate within a therapeutic rather than punitive model.
    Intergenerational improvements can only be achieved if we, as a whole-of-community, embrace strong, functional changes to how “the system” works. Broken, clogged and blocked models within bureaucratic silos within government and NGO agencies contribute to the on-going levels of dysfunction and disconnection for so many from what would otherwise represent potential opportunities.
    Improve the system so we can all collectively improve the outcomes.


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