17 October, 2012
Victims an important part of youth justice system
Improving the way we deal with victims of youth crime is an important part of a credible youth justice system, says Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows.
“It doesn’t matter if the criminal is 16 or 26; the impact of the crime is the same. That’s why ensuring good treatment for victims of crime is just as important in the youth justice system as it is in the adult system,” says Mr Borrows.
Mr Borrows today visited the National Council of Victim Support Groups, to discuss progress on the way victims of youth crime are treated, particularly around the payment of reparations.
“Reparation is a key aspect of the youth justice process – victims expect and deserve to be recompensed for their losses, and reparation payments reinforce the offender taking responsibility for the harm they have caused.
“The youth justice Reparation Accord, introduced by Child, Youth and Family and Victim Support, is a practical way of better managing reparation payments to victims of young offenders.”
The Reparation Accord enables young people who offend to make reparation payments into an account managed by the National Council of Victim Support Groups. Child, Youth and Family monitor the payments to ensure the young person is keeping up with their payment schedule. When the full amount has been collected, Victim Support then pays the victim.
In 2010/2011 and 2011/2012, the Accord collected a total of $68,723.97 from 195 young offenders, for on-payment to victims.
Mr Borrows also discussed other developments to strengthen and improve the youth justice process for victims, in particular the extensive review of the family group conference (FGC) process.
“Increasing victim’s attendance rates at FGCs has been a significant focus for youth justice,” says Mr Borrows.
“Having victims attend the FGC enables them to express how the crime has affected them, and also helps the young person to face up to what they’ve done, and the impact their behaviour has had.
“In the 2011/12 year 90 per cent of victims were consulted prior to an FGC and given the opportunity to be involved. This is a real improvement on 66 per cent the year before, and shows we’re making good progress on improving victim participation in youth justice.
“The feedback we’re getting from victims who attend an FGC is that, for the majority, it’s generally a positive experience for them, and they recognise the benefits for both themselves and the young people.”