Territory Stories

Debates and Questions - Day 2 - 5 May 2021

Details:

Title

Debates and Questions - Day 2 - 5 May 2021

Other title

Parliamentary Record 6

Collection

Debates and Questions for 14th Assembly 2020 -; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT; 14th Assembly 2020 -

Date

2021-05-05

Location

Darwin

Notes

Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Language

English

Subject

Debates and Questions

Publisher name

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Place of publication

Darwin

File type

application/pdf

Use

Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

License

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Parent handle

https://hdl.handle.net/10070/825495

Citation address

https://hdl.handle.net/10070/854500

Page content

Debates and Questions Wednesday 5 May 2021 Meeting No 18 1423 person. By enhancing the police ability to conduct breath testing at the point of incident, it ensures accurate and fair charges are laid in respect to driving under the influence. Delays between the apprehension of youths and the finalisation of their matters can be lengthy. This delay affects a young offenders understanding of the connection between conduct and consequences. These systemic delays impact youth offenders from understanding that their actions have serious consequences. The longer a youth waits for their court date, the higher the risk that they will commit further offences in the interim period. This issue is compounded by the operation of section 64 of the NT Youth Justice Act 2005. Diversion was only ever intended to be accessible for and by police, a means to divert youth from entering the justice system. Section 64 has unintentionally become a means the courts have used to refer a youth to be assessed for inclusion in a diversion program at any point in the court proceedings. This is regardless of whether the youth has entered a plea, been found guilty or already been assessed for inclusion in a diversion program by police. This was never the intended operation of section 64. This use of section 64 often results in a series of back and forth between lawyers, police and the courts and, in some instances, the provision can be a systematic obstruction to justice. We are amending section 64 so that youths who police have assessed as not suitable to participate in a diversion program cannot be referred back to police again by the court. The only exception to this amendment would be where a youth was not considered for a diversion program prior to being charged due to an error or oversight on the part of police. This amendment makes it very clear that police make diversion decisions and the role of the court is to process cases. The court will maintain its powers under sections 83, 90, 91, 92 and 93 of the Youth Justice Act 2005 to provide orders for youths who will change their behaviour. This clarity of pre-court diversion and court decisions will make justice more efficient. Section 64A of the Youth Justice Act 2005 will also be amended to ensure that the court cannot dismiss charges against a youth offender who has not successfully completed a diversion program. Currently, using section 64A, the court at any stage of the proceedings can dismiss charges against a youth. This includes circumstances where a youth is yet to successfully complete a diversion program. This decision often results in the youth not facing any consequences for their actionsand there needs to be consequences. To rectify this issue, section 64A will be amended not to apply to youths who have not successfully completed a diversion program. This bill will also ensure that we make use of our existing legislation to address youth crime. The royal commission found that the existing family responsibility provisions present in the Youth Justice Act 2005 are underutilised. Existing legislation already empowers the Youth Justice Court to establish family responsibility agreements, where it is evident that the offending behaviour of a youth is directly linked to their parents or responsible adults failing to take accountability for their role in the youths offending behaviour. Family responsibility agreements can set requirements that parents and responsible adults participate in services designed to reduce their problematic behaviour giving rise to their young people committing crime, such as engaging with the Banned Drinker Register, attending drug and alcohol court-directed programs or participating in intensive family support services. Family responsibility agreements also assist in identifying circumstances where the behaviour of parents and responsible adults are directly and repeatedly contributing to a youths offending, illuminating cases that warrant handling under the Care and Protection of Children Act 2007 rather than the youth justice system. Section 140F of the Youth Justice Act is amended in this bill to provide that disregard for a family responsibility agreement may provide grounds to instigate inquiries under section 32 of the Care and Protection of Children Act 2007. Any parent who fails to take action to prevent a young person from offending is letting the community down, letting their child down and must be assessed by the child protection system. Further amendments to the Youth Justice Act 2005 also include allowing the Youth Justice Court to direct the CEO of youth justice to prepare and enter into a family responsibility agreement with the parents or responsible adults of a young person before the court. The Youth Justice Act 2005 will also make clear that


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