The Nationals believe community values are important in building regional towns and the rising rates of criminal behaviour needs to be addressed.
There are key themes that emerge when looking at young people who have been in contact with the justice system, which are:
- Problems with family;
- Friends who are involved in criminal behaviour;
- Disengaged from school;
- Disconnection from the broader community; and
- Personal issues including drug and alcohol use, cognitive disorders and mental health issues.
The Nationals recognise that there is no 'silver bullet' for dealing with these issues. Reform is not something that is easy, nor is it fast. The Nationals commit to addressing key legislation and developing and delivering community-based programs tailored to reform and reintegrate offenders into the community.
Young Offenders Act 1994
The Nationals WA commit to amending the Young Offenders Act 1994 to allow magistrates more flexibility in their decision making when dealing with young offenders.
At present, magistrates are essentially presented with two options - to either 'jail or bail' - meaning young offenders are either sent back to the street or, as a last resort, sent to a metropolitan based detention centre.
The Nationals want to provide magistrates with a third option - to remand young offenders in an Intensive Behaviour Management Facility - where serious or repeat offenders can get the assistance they require to prevent recidivism. It would be the option to reform that is sorely needed to catch children who are falling through the cracks - to make sure their behaviour is punishable but also allow them the opportunity, through working with families, community and government departments, to become functioning members of society.
Regional Managed Youth Behavioural Facilities
The Nationals commit to identifying potential sites for Regional Managed Youth Behavioural Facilities, committing $10 million to a trial in a regional centre.
Managed youth behavioural facilities in regional locations would remove the negative influence of juvenile recidivists from communities, reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and provide local rehabilitation options that are tailored to local youth.
In the case of Aboriginal young offenders, rehabilitation programs at regional youth behavioural facilities would be enhanced by engaging the local Aboriginal community through:
- Developing programs that are delivered in partnership with local Aboriginal leaders;
- Working with families of young offenders to address the underlying issues contributing to criminal behaviour;
- Open and transparent communication with key stakeholders;
- Supporting and empowering Aboriginal mentors and role models;
- Jointly task managing offenders post release with WAPOL and Youth Justice; and
- Working with the local Aboriginal community to provide greater support and guidance for troubled youth.
Working with Families
The Nationals WA's focus is on the wellbeing of families and communities when approaching issues related to crime and justice. To reduce the disproportionate rate of Aboriginal children in our child protection system, we must consider:
- Working with families to establish effective educational programs for the retention of Aboriginal children in school;
- Targeted programs aimed at improving parenting skills and fostering a greater sense of responsibility;
- Improving community alcohol and drug education programs;
- Providing a platform for education and treatment programs for family and domestic violence and mental health issues;
- Supporting families in addressing underlying issues that escalate and lead to crime;
- Recognising signs that alert the need for early intervention of children who may be at risk;
- Ensuring adequate housing/accommodation for vulnerable and disadvantaged families; and
- Placing child welfare above other considerations.
The National's Commitment for Community Safety
We believe that community safety is paramount. Crime remains a persistent issue in regional WA and has major social and economic impacts. When it comes to young offenders, we believe efforts must be made to rehabilitate offenders and ensure adequate post-release support is provided for successful reintegration back into the community.
For more detail on our commitment, read our full policy paper here.