Catholic Religious Australia is calling for the reform of Victoria’s youth sentencing laws, supporting recommendations that children be rehabilitated in the community and not in custody.
In a statement released yesterday, CRA said it is “opposed to the imprisonment of children whose risk could be managed in the community and whose exposure to detention will irreversibly harm their futures”.
The Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council published its Children Held on Remand in Victoria: A Report on Sentencing Outcomes report last month. It found that of 442 cases of children held on remand in Victoria over 2017-18, two-thirds of children did not ultimately receive a custodial sentence, unnecessarily exposing children to a detention setting.
CRA president Br Peter Carroll FMS said: “An episode in custody can be devastating for the future of a child, and remand should not be used in circumstances where a child can be effectively managed outside of a detention setting.
“We should be improving diversionary measures, whereby children are supported by appropriate bail, supervision and accommodation services, so that they can be rehabilitated within the community.”
Br Peter said CRA supports the report’s recommendations that strategies for reducing the risk of children entering remand is paramount, and that the inclusion of a fully resourced, 24-hour, Australia-wide bail system specifically for children will “reduce the adverse relationship between remand and sentencing”.