Youth justice is not the government's fault – but it's their job to fix it


The problem we are facing with the youth justice system hasn't developed overnight. The present government has inherited a problem that has been some years in the making. So how did we get here?

One view is that successive governments have taken their eye off the ball with regard to youth justice; another is that our present crisis is not, or not only, due to negligence but more because of governments actively pursuing the wrong approach.

It is clear that over a number of years the youth justice system has not received the attention it deserves – and the cost of that neglect is now apparent. The youth justice system sits between two much larger systems – the child protection system and adult corrections. It is a sad fact that the child protection system is a feeder for youth justice – with about two-thirds of children in the youth justice system having a child protection history (and yes, children is the correct term given their age – they have the brains of children, immature and developing, regardless of their sometimes adult appearance), and that the youth justice system is a feeder for adult corrections – with many people in jail having been transported along the conveyor belt from child protection to youth justice and then to adult corrections.