A new justice group launching in Melbourne today (16 November) claims the Baillieu Government's crackdown on crime could backfire.
Smart Justice for Young People (SJYP), a group comprising over 30 legal, community and youth welfare organisations, is against what it deems "quick fixes" to crime, including increased police powers, the introduction of armed protective service officers at train stations and tougher sentences.
The members of the new initiative developed by Smart Justice - the peak body for community safety for Victoria's 51 community legal centres - include Youthlaw, Federation of Community Legal Centres, Law Institute of Victoria, Jesuit Social Services, the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and Youth Affairs Council of Victoria.
Tiffany Overall, the group's spokesperson and co-director of Youthlaw, said SJYP would demonstrate that there are "smarter and not necessarily tougher" ways to deal with community safety issues.
"The reality is that these [tough on crime] approaches lead to more young people's rights being breached and more young people being locked up. This will not create the law-abiding citizens we want in our communities," said Overall, adding that many young people feel they are "over-policed".
SJYP plans to develop solutions to pressing justice issues for young people in the criminal justice system in Victoria and will initially focus on youth-police relations.
Overall said the group wants to encourage Victorian political parties to develop policies in line with what the "experts and young people themselves" say, rather than "being driven by the media and waves of popular community opinion".
Speaking at the launch today is judge Paul Grant, president of the Children's Court, as well as a young person recounting their own experiences within the criminal justice system.