30 May 2023, 12:27
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne

David ETTERSHANK (Western Metropolitan):

My question is to the Minister for Youth Justice, Minister Erdogan, represented by Minister Symes today. The Youth Parole Board annual report published by the Department of Justice and Community Safety has previously provided important data on youth justice custody statistics in Victoria. This data is used to provide insights into the needs of young people who are in youth justice custody, yet in their last annual report the Youth Parole Board adopted a much narrower scope of data publication. Most notably, intersectional data on the characteristics of offenders, such as disability, race, ethnicity and those who speak English as a second language, has been reduced or removed. Further, data on gender identity and sexual orientation is not captured at all. My question is: has this data stopped being collected, and if not, why is it now being hidden?

Jaclyn SYMES (Attorney General):

I thank Mr Ettershank for his question. I do want to thank Mr Erdogan’s staff for briefing me in relation to their portfolio, but the specific question that you ask is certainly very detailed in relation to the collection of data. I will take that on notice and get you a response.r.


I thank the minister for her response. Victoria’s commissioner for children and young people has recently commented on the prevalence of youth in the justice system that come from disadvantaged backgrounds. With this in mind, how will the minister ensure that related data is collected and published so that support services and systems can best address the contributory factors that underpin youth offending?

Jaclyn SYMES:

I thank Mr Ettershank for his question, and of course I will add that to the substantive question. But there is indeed the youth justice strategy, which is all about targeting disadvantage, targeting the underlying causes of crime. There is a whole-of-government response in relation to multiple ministers that are committed to ensuring that we continue our trend downward of less young people being incarcerated in Victoria. We are having some successes in that, and we are having some successes particularly in some specific cohorts such as Aboriginal children, for example. You are very passionate about this, and I am sure Mr Erdogan’s office will provide more detail in relation to some of those strategies and how they are being rolled out, for your benefit.

Written Answer
Received: 1 June 2023
The Hon. Jaclyn Symes MP 

(Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services, Acting Minister for Corrections, Acting Minister for Youth Justice, Acting Minister for Victim Support)

Substantive Question:

Youth Justice continues to collect data on the characteristics of young people in custody including but not limited to disability, ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation. Survey responses are utilised for reporting as the ‘Characteristics of Young Offenders’, in the Youth Parole Board Annual Reports from 2006-2007.

Over time, Youth Justice has expanded the data it captures on the characteristics of young people due to systems improvements. The ‘Characteristics of Young Offenders’ published in the Youth Parole Board Annual Report has been largely consistent in recent years.

Balanced against this, consideration is given to the data’s accuracy, quality and appropriateness for reporting, including privacy considerations – particularly in light of the significant reduction in the number of young people in the Youth Justice System. These important considerations have and continue to inform necessary changes to the types of data publicly reported year on year.

Supplementary Question:

The Government’s commitment to improving outcomes for young people from disadvantaged and over-represented cohorts is set out clearly in key strategies that are informed by landmark reviews and inquiries.

The Youth Justice Strategic Plan 2020-30 provides a roadmap for reforming Victoria’s youth justice system with a 10-year vision for delivering a leading Youth Justice system in Victoria that reduces offending by children and young people and improves community safety – and works with others to provide genuine opportunities for children and young people to turn their lives around.

The Youth Justice Strategic Plan was anchored by the landmark Youth Justice Review and Strategy by Penny Armytage and Professor James Ogloff. The Youth Justice Strategic Plan includes strategies to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal young people, as well as Culturally and Linguistically Diverse young people, including the establishment of the South Sudanese Australian Youth Justice Expert Working Group.

Wirkara Kulpa, Victoria’s first Aboriginal Youth Justice Strategy, will guide and inform this government’s plan to support and reduce the number of Aboriginal young people in contact with the Youth Justice system. Youth Justice Budget Paper 3 annual reporting also includes performance measures monitoring of Aboriginal young people under custodial supervision. 

This work is supported by a range of publications that report Youth Justice data against important metrics such as age, gender, Aboriginal and Torres Strat Islander status, and others. These publications include the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and The Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services.


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