About Smart Justice for Young People
Smart Justice for Young People is a coalition of over 40 leading social services, health, legal, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and youth advocacy organisations working together to create change for children and young people who come into contact with the criminal legal system.
Smart Justice for Young People is coordinated by YouthLaw and WEstJustice.
The group works together to shift political and public attitudes, advise government on innovative evidence-based approaches, and to challenge policies and practices that harm young people.
The coalition is informed by the experiences and voices of young people, experienced practitioners on the ground, leading researchers and health experts, and communities across Victoria.
Smart Justice for Young People is calling for:
- The age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 14.
- A commitment to community-led, place-based initiatives to tackle disadvantage.
- Action to address the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse children and young people in the criminal legal system.
- An approach that acknowledges and takes action against systemic biases in the criminal legal system that override individual risk factors.
Evidence tells us that smart approaches that support young people, particularly before they have any contact with the criminal legal system, are far more effective in creating strong, resilient and healthy communities.
In recent years, the coalition has looked at the interactions between police and young people, youth diversion schemes, justice reinvestment, bail and remand, and conditions in youth justice facilities, and has acted quickly when new issues arise in the media or from government communications.
In 2023, the coalition has focused on the Raise the Age campaign, and contributing positively to other current youth justice reforms.
Smart Justice for Young People meets regularly to share resources, information and actions, and several working groups have been created to tackle specific issues.
If you would like to know more about the coalition, have a media request, or your organisation would like to join the group please contact Anoushka Jeronimus from WEstjustice, or the team at Youthlaw.