CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILIES AMENDMENT (YOUTH OFFENDERS) BILL 2016
Written on the 18 October 2017
Wednesday, 18 October 2017
I am very pleased to be able to sum up on this debate after listening to the government in relation to their rationale of why they would not support such a commonsense measure that can be applied. We have just heard from the minister, a minister who has presided over a youth justice crisis the likes of which this state has never seen. There have been dozens and dozens of very serious riots causing extensive damage costing tens of millions of dollars and there have been failed court cases. There was a mass escape where young offenders went on a rampage across the state, invading homes and carjacking, and this affected women in particular. People were terrified, and where were you? The minister was absolutely silent and did not come out.
Ms Mikakos interjected.
Ms CROZIER This is youth justice, and the minister has again demonstrated why she does not understand what the community understands. One of her comments in her contribution to the debate was that this is continuing the narrative on law and order. Yes, the Liberals and The Nationals will continue to talk to the community about the issues at hand. The minister referred to very serious incidents that have occurred recently in this state involving somebody about whom a lot of questions need to be asked. The minister referred to that, as did Ms Springle to offenders who are out and have caused extensive serious distress, mayhem and the death of innocent Victorians.
This is something that is pretty obvious, and why would you not consider it when you are looking at a young person's eligibility to be on parole, taking into consideration those matters that have been raised that the Youth Parole Board takes into consideration? And yes, the government might mock. It might attack the person, it might attack us, it might mock us, but that does not take away from what the Victorian community wants. They expect the government to stand up for victims of crime, and we have seen time and time again that this government has failed victims. As Mr O'Donohue said, in Ms Shing's 42 minute contribution there was not one mention of victims of crime after what has occurred in this state.
Ms Shing On a point of order, Acting President, in fact that is not correct, and I would seek that Ms Crozier withdraw it.
Mr Finn On the point of order, Acting President, there is clearly no point of order. That was a point of debate, and there is nothing in the standing orders which covers the point of order that Ms Shing is attempting to make.
Ms Shing Further on the point of order, Acting President, verballing is unparliamentary. I would seek that Ms Crozier withdraw it.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Ms Dunn) There is no point of order on the matters that Ms Shing sought.
Ms CROZIER That demonstrates just how sensitive the government is about this. It has continued to defy us on what is of concern to the Victorian community, and that is the crisis that is occurring in law and order and unfortunately the brazen serious crimes by young offenders that have occurred. We have seen so many brazen attempts at repeat offending. I look at the jewellery store robberies that have caused so much mayhem for those businesses and those people who work in those businesses. It has just been horrendous, and yet there has been little regard for it by the government.
Ms Mikakos interjected.
Ms CROZIER Ms Mikakos, that is the point. If you can learn from reviews like that, these crimes that are being committed by young offenders are just as dangerous and just as serious as those by adult offenders. That is the point. Community safety should be the paramount consideration, so the government is denying this provision, which would mean Victorians could have faith that the Youth Parole Board would take this into consideration. I see that the Youth Parole Board talks about their charter, and of course we know that. It is on the Department of Justice and Regulation website:
The Youth Parole Board is committed to the rehabilitation and best outcomes for young people under their jurisdiction. The board makes decisions within a framework that balances the needs of the young person with community safety considerations.
That is the issue. What we are saying is that surely community safety should be paramount in balancing those considerations when there is rehabilitation, counselling or supervision when a young person is out on parole. There is nothing wrong with that. We do have those provisions in place to give those young people the best chance, but if there is any risk or any doubt that the community is at great risk, then surely that should be the foremost consideration in that Youth Parole Board decision. That is what this bill is about.
It is extremely disappointing that the government does not understand community concerns in relation to parolees. I think they have had enough. They have seen the soft on crime approach that has occurred and the crisis in crime that has enveloped our state; it has gone right across our state. We have got serious issues. The government might talk about rehabilitation, counselling and drug and alcohol services, which were mentioned by Ms Mikakos. When I ask a question of the minister in relation to what is available for young offenders our youth justice clients in the provision of counselling and rehabilitation in drug and alcohol services, the answer I get back is:
The Department of Health and Human Services does not maintain waiting lists for drug and alcohol treatment services.
Wait times for individual clients can vary by location, service type and clinical need.
Youth justice clients have designated pathways and prioritised access to treatment services.
I understand they have prioritised access to treatment services, but what are those lengths of time? What is that priority? Do they jump the queue before everyone else? I mean, that is the base answer we get from this government, and they do not understand that there is consideration that needs to be taken into account for a whole range of services and why the community itself is very concerned about the direction that the government is taking.
Now, the Youth Parole Board obviously has discretion to determine parole eligibility, and each one is taken on its own merits. We understand that. I understand that. The opposition understand that. That is not what we are basing this on. But this bill would have kept Victorians safer by requiring the Youth Parole Board to consider the obvious, and that is: is the community at risk if this young person is granted parole? Is this young offender a risk to the safety of Victoria if they are on parole? That is what this bill is asking.
I am extremely disappointed that the government is not supporting this bill. I think, in light of recent matters about the seriousness of crime that has occurred in this state, that this would be something that they would support or at least, as Mr O'Donohue highlighted with the private members bill that he has brought in, that they would support at a later stage. Let us hope that they do this, because this is what Victorians expect and this is what Victorians deserve. Community safety should be paramount on every parole decision, whether in the adult system or in youth justice.