The 2018 Victorian Budget will help progress many of the recommendations made in the Armytage Ogloff Youth Justice Review – including ones for improved diversion options, services and programs. The budget also looks to tackle the overrepresentation of Aboriginal young people in the youth justice system through targeted interventions and support programs.
However, it is disappointing that yet again the most substantial investment in the justice portfolio is for more prison beds.
Victoria should shift its focus from more beds to more funding for prisoner health, education and rehabilitation services, and to investing in communities to address underlying causes of crime.
Continued funding for the Family Drug Treatment Court in Broadmeadows, will give more families the support they need to deal with addictions and reunite with their children. In future budgets, the Victorian Government should consider expanding this, and other problem solving courts like the Victorian Drug Court, to other parts of the state.
- Stronger youth justice system
Implementing the recommendations of the Armytage Ogloff Youth Justice Review along with further action to strengthen the youth justice system, including:
o New secure units and additional staff at Malmsbury and Parkville Youth Justice facilities.
o Additional mental health and alcohol and drug services in youth justice facilities.
o Continuation of the Children’s Court Youth Diversion Service.
o Culturally specific responses to Aboriginal young people, including continuing the Koori Youth Justice Program and Koori Elder in-reach program.
o More day programs in youth justice facilities to improve rehabilitation and education outcomes.
$36.9m in 2018-19 ($144.6m/4 years)
- Initiatives to tackle youth offending
Initiatives to monitor and reduce youth offending, including tackling the reasons young people commit crimes. Further details are required on what these will include.
$12.6m in 2018-19
- Expansion of court system capacity
Establishing a new Bail and Remand Court and employing additional judges, including 15 more Magistrates to help meet demand and reduce court backlogs.
$18.5m in 2018-19 ($127m/4 years)
- Continuing the Community Crime Prevention Program
Continuing local crime prevention initiatives including youth crime prevention projects, Public Safety Infrastructure and Community Safety Funds. Also includes new funding for Crime Stoppers and Neighbourhood Watch.
$5.2m in 2018-19 ($25m/4 years)
- Continuing the Family Drug Treatment Court
An additional year’s funding for the Family Drug Treatment Court in Broadmeadows, which works with parents whose drug addiction has played a significant part in their child protection involvement, to improve chances of rehabilitation and family reunification.
$3.9m in 2018-19
- Extending support for vulnerable victims in court
Extending the intermediary scheme supporting children and vulnerable people who are victims of crime, to provide evidence to police and courts.
$300,000 in 2018-19 ($2.5m/2 years)
- Funding for Victoria Legal Aid
Enabling Victoria Legal Aid to provide more legal services, including duty lawyers, and grants to people experiencing criminal legal issues.
$5.2m in 2018-19 ($35.8m/4 years)
- Expanding the Indigenous art in prisons program
Expansion of the statewide Aboriginal art in prisons and community program. This includes continuing recovery and trauma counselling programs for women in prison who have experienced family violence.
$1.7m in 2018-19 ($4.2m/3 years)
Not so positive initiatives
- Expansion of Lara Prison Precinct
Construction of a 700-bed maximum security prison for men. The prison was announced earlier this year.
$689m in capital funding
Future policy directions
- Increase investment in legal assistance services
Community legal centres missed out on any additional funding in this budget. Timely and appropriate legal assistance helps people identify and resolve legal issues before they escalate. In future, the Victorian Government should also consider additional funding for health-justice partnerships that help people get the help they need.
- Improve transition supports for people leaving prison
Successful reintegration and rehabilitation is crucial to preventing people reoffending. Only limited transitional support is available to people leaving prison in Victoria, putting them at higher risk of homelessness, health crisis or reoffending.