Blueprint for Youth Justice in the ACT 2012-22
Annual Progress Report 2015
Youth Justice Blueprint Implementation Group
I am pleased to present this latest annual report on the Blueprint for Youth Justice in the ACT 2012-22. The report brings together the progress of the Blueprint’s implementation in achieving its identified goals (see page 8).
Three years into implementation, we are still in the early stages of realising the ACT Government’s ten year strategy. However, it is heartening to see that our data across a number of areas is evidence that we are on the right path.
We have achieved significant reductions in the levels of youth offending and the number of young people in contact with, or becoming further involved in the youth justice system.
We are also seeing fewer young people in detention. This outcome reflects the Blueprint’s intent for the youth justice system to use detention only as a measure of last resort.
It is pleasing to note that the ACT is making progress in addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the youth justice system. Since 2011-12, there has been a 47 per cent drop in the number of young people under supervision and in detention. This is a remarkable result over the life of the first three-year action plan.
Our longer term, coordinated efforts to bring significant and lasting change here will be supported by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement 2015-18. The Agreement’s focus on strong families, and the elements of cultural identity and connections, is relevant for future work under the Blueprint. These are important in understanding the complexities around the involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the justice system.
The achievements to 2015 confirm that the Blueprint’s focus on early intervention, prevention and diversion is sound policy and practice.
I believe that we have started 2016 in a sustainable position to continue this work.
This is particularly important in the context of the transformational change that is occurring across the ACT to support children and young people.
The Human Services Blueprint is the key reform driving transformational change through Better Services. I am pleased to share with you that the Blueprint for Youth Justice is forming part of the Better Services reform and is building collaborative practice amongst services to achieve more integrated and holistic responses for clients.
The ACT is the first jurisdiction in Australia to integrate child protection and youth justice services. The newly established Child and Youth Protection Services focuses on intervening early when issues arise so that children and young people receive the right service, at the right time, for as long as they need it.
Better Services is also guiding the A Step Up for Our Kids reform which is supporting children, young people and families in out of home care. A Step Up for Our Kids is building a therapeutic, trauma-informed system that is able to intervene early to prevent children and young people from entering care. The reform works to reunify children and young people with their birth parents, and where this is not possible, will move children and young people into safe and permanent homes.
In closing, I would reaffirm that our efforts to keep young people safe, strong and connected are a shared responsibility. It is a responsibility that must always be balanced with a commitment to maintain a safe and inclusive community. The achievements under the Blueprint so far are shaping the way forward to maintain this vision.
Dr Chris Bourke
Minister for Children and Young People
This report demonstrates progress and achievements of the Blueprint over its first three years by:
- measuring the performance of the youth justice system against the Blueprint’s goals;
- providing case studies to illustrate how outcomes are being achieved for young people; and
- tracking the progress of 45 actions set out in the action plan.
The structure of the report is as follows:
- Section 1 - data picture against Blueprint goals;
- Section 2 - summary of progress on actions;
- Section 3 - data trends and Blueprint strategies, and next steps;
- Section 4 - case studies; and
- Appendix A - detailed progress on actions.
Further information about the Blueprint and previous annual progress reports are available on the Blueprint for Youth Justice webpage.
Young people and communities are at the centre of decision making, and services are delivered holisitically.
Service design responds to the context in which it is delivered by understanding the needs and expectations of people and communities.
Relationships and service responses empowere individual and familial resilience, self - determination and independence.
Service design, funding , accountability and performance measurement focus on individual, community and system outcomes.
Information and access to services is easy to understand, navigate and access.
Young people and communities, community services and government agencies are aligned an untied in their efforts to build collective impact.
The current need of young people and communities are balanced with considerations for future needs.
Young people and communities are supported by evidence-informed, innovative, continously improving responses that appropriately meet their needs and enable them to acheive their desired outcomes.
More information about Better Services.
ACT Youth Justice System
The ACT youth justice system deals with young people who have committed or allegedly committed offences. In the ACT, this includes young people aged 10 to 17 years at the time of the offence, as well as young people up to the age of 21 years for an offence committed as a minor.
The ACT youth justice system includes the police, courts, the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre and the Community Services Directorate for the supervision of young people on court orders.
This third report presents the progress in implementing the Blueprint for Youth Justice in the ACT 2012-22 (the Blueprint) and demonstrates how outcomes are being met through key indicators for youth justice.
Progress and achievements over the first three years of implementation are demonstrated by:
- measuring the performance of the youth justice system against the Blueprint’s goals; and
- tracking the achievement of initiatives set out in the action plan.
Of the 45 initiatives in the three-year action plan, 41 are complete, one is substantially complete and the remaining three are progressing.
Data from the first three years shows:
- the number of young people apprehended by ACT Policing decreased by 37%;
- the number of young people under youth justice supervision decreased by 28% and by 35% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people;
- the number of young people under community based supervision decreased by 29%;
- the number of young people in detention decreased by 35%; and
- the number of days young people spent in detention reduced by 60%.
Evidence from the Blueprint’s commencement shows sustained reductions in the number of young people coming into contact with, or further involved in, the youth justice system.
This suggests that crime is being prevented, the impact of crime is reduced and community safety is improved. Initiatives contributing to the downward trend include the After Hours Crisis Service, Narrabundah House, the Youth Alcohol Diversion Program, evidence-based practice and case management in youth services, restorative justice practices and support for young detainees to transition back into the community.
In the ACT, the Blueprint is making a difference to the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the youth justice system. This work will continue to be supported through the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement 2015-18 and the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice Partnership 2015-18.
In 2016, work to strengthen links with the ACT Justice Reinvestment Strategy will be a key focus. This collaboration is about investing in community-driven solutions that will reduce crime and break cycles of re-offending and intergenerational offending. Ultimately, this investment is about building safer and more inclusive communities.
Future work will also focus on consolidating efforts so that important gains can be sustained for the long term. This direction provides an opportunity to link to key reforms across the ACT Government. These include changes to out of home care through A Step Up for Our Kids, the human services system through the Human Services Blueprint and associated ‘Better Services’ initiatives, and addressing domestic and family violence through the ACT Prevention of Violence Against Women and Children Strategy 2011-17.
Delivery of an outcomes evaluation in 2016 will help to determine the impact, value and sustainability of the Blueprint. Findings from the evaluation will drive the future direction of work.
The Blueprint is a ten year, whole-of-government and community plan to reduce youth crime by finding better ways to support young people.
The Blueprint provides an evidence-based approach to improve outcomes for young people who are involved or at risk of involvement in the ACT’s youth justice system. Strategies to support young people and their families focus on early intervention, prevention and diversion.
The Blueprint recognises that by reducing risk factors and strengthening protective factors, our community will be better equipped to keep young people safe, strong and connected.