Latest News & Updates

Call from youth peak to stop exclusions from schools


The Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (YACVic0 has just released a fantastic report ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind? on school exclusion which calls on Gov’t to address the enormous number of young people who are being excluded from school through suspension, expulsion, reduced attendance, refusal of enrolment, and being ‘asked to leave’ a school.

The report highlights the appalling lack of data available, the impact of exclusion on already vulnerable young people and provides loads of examples and recommendations for change .

In Victoria up to 10,000 young people drop out of school completely each year. Some as early as primary school.

These young people are overwhelmingly vulnerable before this occurs. They are being pushed out, out of sight. Schools are under a lot of pressure to deliver good scores and get rid of underperforming kids. They don’t have sufficient funding & resources. Many have adopted harsh disciplinary and exclusionary policies.

See the YACVIC report here.

Youthlaw strongly supports YACVic’s stand on this issue & it’s recommendations. Early intervention in the education setting is a no brainer and will reduce enormous negative impacts that flow from vulnerable young people not receiving the support they need. This includes their mental & physical well-being, capacity to lead a fulfilling and positive life and broader costs to society of homelessness, mental ill-health, drug abuse and engagement in the criminal justice system.

Make a difference – Federal Election 2016

Did you know

  • 10,000 Victorian young people drop out of school completely each year
  • 6,117 do not have a home on any given night.
  • Over 7,000 were removed from their families last year due to abuse and neglect.
  • Last year one youth homeless service in Melbourne CBD had 7,211 visits from young people seeking help

Vote for candidates and parties that are for:

1. Federal funding support to implement the recommendations of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence.

2. Restoring & substantially increasing funding of community programs and services that engage with vulnerable young people ( eg mental health, substance abuse and homeless support services)

3. Significant Investment in public education & pathways, programs and supports for young people at risk of or disengaging with mainstream education.

4. Funding of employment assistance programs that pay real wages and policy that paves the way to real jobs

5. National spent convictions legislation to reduce life long impacts of having a criminal record.

6. Adoption and implementation of a justice reinvestment approach to policy and programs by both federal and state governments and funding of Justice Reinvestment pilots with a focus on early investment in vulnerable children and young people.

7. Reversal of funding cuts & increased funding to community legal centres (including Youthlaw) that assist the most vulnerable to protect & assert their legal rights.

IBAC decision highlights need for early independent investigation of police complaints

An investigation by IBAC of a police brutality and racism complaint by client Nassir Bare has resulted in IBAC deciding the complaint was unsubstantiated due to insufficient evidence.

“While pleased this complaint was finally independently investigated, the decision by IBAC in regard to Mr Bare is disappointing. It highlights the flaws in a system that did not provide any initial independent investigation when the complaint was first made. Our client’s version of events, of being brutalised and racially abused by police officers has not changed in the 7 years it has taken to get it independently investigated,” said Director of Youthlaw, Ariel Couchman.

“Mr Bare is a courageous young man who spoke out about his experience and continued to request investigation all these years, not only to bring the officers involved to account but to benefit other young people who are too afraid to make complaints.”

The decision of the Court of Appeal still stands and calls into question the police complaints investigation system in Victoria.

“We call on the state government to establish a victim-centred independent body, whether this be an expanded IBAC or a new body, to investigate complaints against police”.

“Until this occurs the number of complaints against police will remain small, as most complaints are still referred back to Victoria Police to investigate. Police who abuse their powers will continue to undermine the good work and practice of their colleagues, and the community will not be confident that justice is being served.” said Ms Couchman.

For further media comment please contact:
Ariel Couchman, Youthlaw Director 0438812937
Tiffany Overall, Advocacy and Human Rights Officer 0400903034

Youth crime rate dropping – Bail breaches still have consequences


Despite the hysteria being whipped up by the Herald Sun & the police association, the new bail law changes that came in on Monday 2nd May will in no way prevent police dealing effectively with youth offenders. Bail breaches have consequences.

The changes get rid of the draconian once size fits all bail laws introduced under the previous government. In all this beat up lets nor forget that the new Victorian Crimes stats Agency has just released stats showing youth offending is on the decline.

Recent highlighted offending by a small cohort of young people needs to be treated seriously and effectively. The Bail changes will enable justice and police services to target their resources to areas of concern. The changes will also enable courts to respond to the offending of young people as they should -individually.

Ariel Couchman
Director, Youthlaw