Youth justice in South Australia took a significant step forward yesterday with the passage through Parliament of the Youth Justice Administration Bill 2015.
Speaking to the Bill, the Hon. Zoe Bettison, Minister for Social Inclusion and Communities, said that the legislation sought to –
consolidate all youth justice administrative functions into one clear, concise legislative framework while, at the same time, contemporising other relevant legislation to better reflect best practice in this area, particularly in respect of the detainment of children and young people.
The Bill provides additional sentencing options for young offenders, for a charter of rights for young people in youth justice detention and directs the establishment of an Official Visitor scheme.
In anticipation of the passage of the Bill, Minister Bettison signed off on the Charter of Rights for Young People Detained in Youth Justice Facilities in December 2015. The Charter is based on a model Charter developed by Australia’s Children’s Commissioners and Guardians which itself draws from UN rules covering young people in youth justice detention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In 2015, the Guardian’s Office conducted 15 workshops seeking views on the content and promotion of the Charter. A total of 149 people participated, including 22 residents and a version of the model charter adapted for local conditions was forwarded to the Minister. The Charter is available for download.
The Bill also mandates the appointment of an independent Official Visitor to report on the treatment of residents and the management of the youth training centre. The Bill directs the Visitor to pay particular attention to the needs and circumstances of young people in state care, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and young people with disabilities.
The Bill now only awaits the Governor’s signature to become law.