Most ACT youth offenders breach community orders

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CANBERRA has the lowest proportion of young people successfully completing community-based orders (CBO) in Australia, according to the report on Government Services 2021.

A CBO gives offenders the opportunity to cease their criminal behaviour through rehabilitation and education programs while also allowing them to remain in school or work, and is considered incomplete when a court decides the order has been breached.

Figures from the report show only 45.8 per cent of offenders in the ACT sentenced to a CBO successfully completed them in 2019-20, in contrast to the national average of 82.8 per cent.

When it comes to indigenous youth the figures take even more of a dive, with only 15.9 per cent of indigenous young people in the ACT completing their CBOs in comparison to a national average of 80.8 per cent.

Shadow minister for families, youth and community services Elizabeth Kikkert cited the report in an Estimates Hearing yesterday (March 3) when posing a question to the ACT government on the severity of the situation.

“Why is the government going backwards on this material whilst the rest of Australia is improving?” Mrs Kikkert said.

Helen Pappas, the executive group manager of the Community Services Directorate for Children, Youth and Families, took the question on notice while Justice Health Minister Emma Davidson said the numbers have to be read with caution.

“Because we’re talking about very low individual numbers of young people in the youth justice system in the ACT, it can have a big impact on percentages,” Ms Davidson said.

Mrs Kikkert was not satisfied with the response, saying it was “troubling” that Minister Davidson and her officials had to take the questions on notice and were unaware of the data.

“I am determined to see these young people receive the hands-on case management and strong community supports they need to successfully reintegrate into the community,” said Mrs Kikkert.

In a statement to “CityNews” minister Davidson said: “We pay close attention to the Report on Government Services and other reports published by the Productivity Commission and similarly authoritative institutions like the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

“The ACT government is aware of jurisdictional comparisons, which are multiple. The data comparisons relating to youth offenders completion of community based orders were not at hand in the hearing. We remain vigilant to the need to act on areas for improvement.

“The ACT government continues to make progress in youth justice through the ‘Blueprint for Youth Justice in the ACT 2012–22’, and continues to work to ensure the ACT has a youth justice system that focuses on rehabilitation and provides opportunities for young people.”

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