Board to divert youths from crime

Nine community, business and academic leaders have been appointed to a Youth Justice Board that will review laws which apply to juvenile offenders and develop strategies to steer young people away from crime.

The board, to be chaired by Corrective Services Commissioner James McMahon, has members with expertise in areas including indigenous mental health, Aboriginal affairs, drug research, child health and business.

Corrective Services Minister Jo Francis said the creation of the board reflected the Government's determination to stop the waste of human capital that occurred every time a young person ended up in detention.

"It is a waste for the individual, the family and for our community as a whole," Mr Francis said.

"The Government doesn't have a monopoly on solutions. The board members have been chosen because they bring other perspectives, expertise, and the courage to do things differently."

Telethon Kids Institute director and respected paediatrician Jonathon Carapetis, University of WA Institute of Advanced Studies director Clarissa Ball, Noongar Aboriginal affairs leader Michael Hayden, former corporate banking manager and Social Ventures Australia member Paul Bide, Bankwest community engagement chief Craig Spencer, Minderoo chief operating officer Grant Vernon, Noongar psychiatrist and child health lecturer Marshall Watson and National Drug Institute researcher Mandy Wilson will make up the board under Mr McMahon.

Mr Francis said the role of the board would be to strengthen the delivery of early intervention and diversion programs and services, promote engagement between the business community and private and public sectors to deliver more effective crime prevention and diversion programs, promote stronger engagement with Aboriginal families and communities and work with a new youth justice division within the Department of Corrective Services

He said one of the board's priorities would be developing strategies focussed on crime prevention and diversion, drug and alcohol abuse, and alternatives to custody.

"The board will act as a bridge-builder between our different government and non-government sectors, and shifting the way that all of us work together to improve the well-being of young people in Western Australia," Mr Francis said.

"The Youth Justice Division will be responsible for a wide range of programs covering, diversion and community based sentences. That role will be overseen by the board and the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services to ensure external scrutiny."

The West Australian

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