Inclusion of 17-year-olds in the youth justice system

The Youth Justice and Other Legislation (Inclusion of 17-year-old Persons) Amendment Act 2016 (PDF) commenced on 12 February 2018, meaning young offenders aged 17 will be dealt with in the youth justice system. The commencement of the legislation brings Queensland into line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the law in all other Australian jurisdictions.

The legislation supports the wide-sweeping reforms being implemented across Youth Justice, to ensure the rehabilitation of young offenders. Under the Act, children aged 17 years old can access the same support and services that children aged 16 and under can access. This includes:

  • access to a support person when interviewed by police
  • legal advice and separate conditions for watch houses
  • age and developmentally-appropriate interventions.

Transitional regulation

The Youth Justice (Transitional) Regulation 2018 also commenced on 12 February 2018. The regulation supports the Act, and will ensure 17 year-olds currently involved in the adult justice system can be carefully transitioned to Youth Justice care. The regulation will be in effect for 2 years.

This will allow for 17 year-olds who are in adult prison, on adult community-based orders or involved in adult court proceedings to be transferred to the youth justice system.

Decisions about transferring 17 year-olds to detention from adult prison will be made based on the safety and best interests of the child, staff and the wider community.

The transitional regulation means that:

  • 17 year-olds on community-based orders will transfer to Youth Justice supervision
  • 17 year-olds in adult custody will be eligible for transfer to a youth detention centre, if it is in the child’s best interest and safety
  • court proceedings for 17 year-olds will transfer to the youth justice system:
    • if it is the first time the matter is before the court
    • following the completion of a hearing (where the hearing has been part-heard)
    • where a community-based order is breached.

Supervised community accommodation

Supervised community accommodation is being established across the state during 2017/18.

Often, children are in detention on remand or at risk of going to detention because they have no supported, secure and stable accommodation while on bail or on youth justice orders. These services provide children involved in the youth justice system with a safe place to stay and a chance to change their lives.

Supervised community accommodation services offer eligible children the opportunity to receive the support they need to attend school or vocational education and complete rehabilitation programs.

The children staying at the services are under 24/7 supervision and are required to abide by strict conditions such as curfews and bail conditions.

These facilities provide the courts with another bail alternative, where children can participate in pro-social activities that help them building a better future away from their pasts.

Supervised community accommodation locations include:

  • Townsville
  • Carbrook
  • Logan Reserve.

More information

Further information on the reforms is available by reading the Minister Farmer's media statement.