Youthlaw welcomes the Andrew Government’s first budget which demonstrates their commitment to assist vulnerable young people. Much of its investment in early intervention, preventing family violence, education, support services and diversion represents a positive development towards many of the key policy areas identified in Youthlaw Policy Platform 2015.
We understand not everything could be funded in the first budget, but there were some policy areas that missed out that we urge Government to include in the 2016 Budget.
While this budget made significant investment in the child protection system, the state needs much greater investment in integrated early intervention services for the thousands of vulnerable young people who are not part of the child protection system.
We are pleased about the $1.2 million to strengthen the bail youth diversion program, however there is no allocation in this budget towards Government’s election promise of legislating and funding a state-wide youth diversion program. It is imperative Government commit significant resources to a state-wide program to ensure all young people have access to similar services that assist them to avoid more serious offending and the stigma of a criminal record
There are no major new initiatives to reverse the growth in prison numbers, but we are very encouraged by Government’s shift in approach with more investment in community corrections and prison education, health and programs than new prison beds, and commitment to “Over the next four years the Labor Government will focus on the difficult task of slowing the rate of people returning to prison.”
We strongly encourage the Government adopt,fund and implement a justice reinvestment approach to reduce crime and incarceration. In particular we urge Government to fund an independent justice reinvestment agency and pilot a justice reinvestment project in Victoria targeting children and young people.
To see more detail of budget initiatives and what’s missing: 2015 Budget&Youthlaw policy platform