Our reform journey

The Queensland Government is committed to reforming the youth justice system to strengthen the prevention, early intervention and rehabilitation responses to youth crime in Queensland and make communities safer.

Since 2015, much work has been done to change the way we respond to youth crime. We have a strong foundation to build on through evidence-based policy and practice, action learning, and a commitment to reviewing and evaluating our reforms.

The first stage of significant reforms to the youth justice system commenced in 2015 and included:

In December 2018, the Working Together Changing the Story: Youth Justice Strategy 2019-2023 (PDF, 1.2 MB) Working Together Changing the Story: Youth Justice Strategy 2019-2023 (DOCX, 94 KB) was released to build on the earlier reforms and set the framework for the Queensland Government’s policy and strategic direction.

The Youth Justice Strategy is guided by the recommendations by Bob Atkinson, AO, APM in his Report on Youth Justice (PDF, 826 KB), and focuses on 4 priority areas:

  1. Intervene early
  2. Keep children out of court
  3. Keep children out of custody
  4. Reduce re-offending.

In 2019, the second stage of reforms (PDF, 481 KB) second stage of reforms (DOCX, 457 KB) were announced including:

  • investment of $332.5 million, announced in the 2019/20 budget, for a range of new and improved youth justice initiatives
  • new initiatives and programs (PDF, 472 KB) initiatives and programs (DOCX, 820 KB) to reduce the high number of young people remanded in custody and ensure their safety and wellbeing in police watch houses
  • changes to the Youth Justice Act 1992 to remove barriers to young people being granted bail.

The new Department of Youth Justice was announced in May 2019.

The Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 passed in August 2019.

It has 3 main focus areas:

  • reduce how long it takes for proceedings in the youth justice system to be finalised
  • remove barriers so that more young people can get bail appropriately
  • ensure appropriate conditions are attached to bail.

The Act makes changes to the Charter of Youth Justice Principles. A new principle has been added for the youth justice system to give priority to proceedings for children remanded in custody, as well as changes to:

  • principle 7 to make it clear proceedings against a child for an offence should be finalised as soon as possible
  • principle 8 to make sure children are dealt with in a way that recognises their need for guidance and assistance
  • principle 16 to make sure children are dealt with in a way that allows their education, training or employment to continue without interruption if possible and also preferably while they live at home
  • principle 17 to clarify that the principle of detention as a last resort also applies to children on remand.

We are committed to building on these reforms by doing more of what works to reduce youth offending and re-offending, and make communities safer.