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Friday 17th of August 2018

Press Room

Report sheds lights on shortcomings of rehabilitation services in youth detention in Victoria, Australia

Friday 10th of August 2018
Juvenile Justice in the world

A new report from the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office has been published, entitled 'Managing Rehabilitation Services in Youth Detention', examining the implementation of juvenile justice and socio-educational standards within the detention context in the Australian state of Victoria. The document, produced following assessment from January to June 2017, sheds light on the shortcomings of the system and sets out steps to ensure fair access to education and other rehabilitation opportunities for all young offenders.


The youth detention system in this part of Australia has long struggled with problems within its facilities, which contain at any one time around 200 young offenders. A series of riots in 2016 and 2017, and a subsequent set of findings published in July 2017 prompted a $50 million investment in youth justice system reforms. While the report acknowledges the ongoing process of implementation of these changes, it underscores the serious issues that remain to be solved.

To this effect, the authors highlight the facts that young people in detention have not been receiving the rehabilitation services they are entitled to and that are necessary to meet their needs. As a result, youth detention has not been effectively promoting reduced reoffending.

This comes as a consequence of a mix of interrelated factors, among them: inadequate service levels and facilities; a focus on security that impairs access to education and health services; a lack of complete and focused case management and needs assessment by the Department of Justice and Regulation (DJR) and the Youth Health and Rehabilitation Service (YHaRS).

Particularly salient in the report is the inadequate use of case planning for those individuals whose circumstances require one, with management plans being developed for only nineteen detainees from a sample size of forty.

Another of the key findings is the waiting time for access to medical or therapeutic services, with certain offenders having to wait up to four weeks for psychiatric attention, when over forty percent of detainees had been diagnosed with a mental health problem and seventy-one percent had been victims of trauma, abuse or neglect.

The audit also found an extremely high rate of absence from classes, inadequate provisions for students such as a ban on the use of the Internet and the fact that some female detainees were unable to reach certain classrooms due to security concerns.

The report lays out nine recommendations for the DJR and YHaRS, addressing its main concerns on case planning, education, health care and calling for the authorities to learn from this study during the development of a new facility scheduled for inauguration in 2021.

The Australian government has welcomed the report, accepted the recommendations and will implement them in due course.


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