Controversial Qld youth justice bill gets green light
Queensland child offenders should be forced to meet victims "to hear first-hand the impact of their crime" and more money and other support should be offered to victims as well, a parliamentary report says.
The Palaszczuk government's controversial youth justice bill, which will make it a crime for children to breach bail and increase jail time for offences mainly committed by people under the age of 18, has been given approval by a parliamentary committee.
Human rights watchdogs, legal groups, social service providers, charities and advocates have condemned the bill for the lack of evidence in support of the measures, which will override the state's Human Rights Act.
Labor and Liberal National Party politicians on the committee say limiting the human rights of roughly 400 mainly Indigenous children whom they say are "serious repeat offenders" is justified and the bill should be passed.
"The bill strikes an appropriate balance between the protection of the rights of children and young people in Queensland, and strengthening community safety," chair and Labor MP Linus Power wrote in a report tabled on Friday.
"We are therefore satisfied that the bill's impact on human rights is justified in the circumstances."
He said the measures in the bill weren't in isolation as the government had announced a number of investments in intervention and rehabilitation programs.
The youth justice laws are due to be debated and put to a vote in the Labor-controlled parliament next week.
However, the committee flagged further measures aimed at child offenders should be considered as well, including changing laws to force them to meet their victims.
"To remove the voluntary nature of youth justice conferencing for the offender in the case where a victim would like to proceed with a youth justice conference," Mr Power wrote.
"We note restorative justice processes such as youth justice conferencing have a proven positive effect for both the offender and the victim, helping to improve greater empathy for both parties, increasing accountability for the offender as they are required to hear first-hand the impact of their crime on the victim, and in many cases, reducing the victim's psychological distress."
The committee also called for the government to review the victims of crime assistance laws to help victims access more financial and other support.
It said the review could consider making financial assistance available to people who suffer home invasions and finding ways to reduce the financial burden on applicants.