Reversal of youth bail law plans in Victoria will cause harm


The Victorian government’s announcement that it will not go ahead with plans to implement a presumption of bail for children will cause harm to young people and will not reduce crime, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“This is a case of putting politics before the needs of vulnerable children and is a breach of international and Victorian human rights standards,” said Greg Barns SC, spokesperson for the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

“The result will be more children incarcerated which we know leads to a higher chance of reoffending and more children ‘graduating’ into the adult correctional system.

“The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities clearly states that the best interests of the child must in all cases come first when it comes to policy concerning children.”

This is consistent with the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child – to which Australia is a signatory – which states that the best interests of the child must underpin all government policies, including bail laws.

“The government’s refusal to ensure the presumption of bail for children is a flagrant breach of the necessity to put the best interests of the child first,” said Mr Barns SC. “We must be focused on keeping children out of detention and placing them in environments that are safe and therapeutic.”

The ALA said that this announcement follows a disturbing recent trend across Australia, particularly in Queensland and NSW, where children are being subjected to a greater likelihood of detention instead of the government spending its resources on meeting the needs of vulnerable children.

“The results of this trend will be more children subjected to mental and physical abuse and more incidents of youth crime,” said Mr Barns SC.

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