Criminal or anti-social juvenile behaviour affects us all. Some of us may be victims of juvenile crime, some may be apprehensive about their personal safety, while others may know of young people who have been in trouble with the law. And, as taxpayers, all of us contribute to the costs of juvenile justice.
Currently about one in every 200 young people in NSW is convicted of a crime each year. The Department of Juvenile Justice works with these young offenders to help them fit back into society and lead a life free of crime.
This is not an easy task. Young offenders are often difficult to help. Many come from disadvantaged backgrounds and may have had poor parental supervision. They may have achieved little at school, have poor work prospects and psychological problems, and be part of an anti-social peer group.
While the Department of Juvenile Justice has prime responsibility, agencies in the justice and welfare systems need to work closely together to tackle these complex and diverse issues. They ultimately desire the same result for young offenders – progression to a well-adjusted, crime-free adulthood.
The report highlights the challenges facing all those who work with young offenders - youth workers, police officers, magistrates, health workers and teachers. Achieving the best possible outcome for these young people will help bring about safer and more harmonious communities for us all.
This is the first of two audits in our current performance audit program that deals with young offenders. We examined how the Department of Juvenile Justice measures performance, and whether staff have adequate information to make sound planning decisions and recommend appropriate interventions for young offenders.
Our next audit, starting later in 2005, will review whether relevant government agencies effectively coordinate the management of young offenders.
Parliamentary reference - Report number #142 - released 14 September 2005