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Chief Justice's speech on young people offending

11 October 2016

On Tuesday 11 October, the Chief Justice delivered the Hon Austin Asche AC QC Oration in Law and Governance at Charles Darwin University on the topic of young people offending.

The Chief Justice reflected that when dealing with children and young offenders it would be better to have a holistic approach to protection, sentencing and detention.  

Such an approach, her Honour said, would require a whole-of-government response.

“There is no doubt that such a system can be said to be costly.  However, the long-term savings can be appreciated.”

The Chief Justice suggested that if the problems of education, social dysfunction and homelessness are addressed many of the problems resulting in the horrific cases the Court sees may be avoided.

Her Honour reflected on how Australia’s juvenile justice systems have evolved since the 1990s when the Australian Law Reform Commission and then Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission released its Report into young people’s experience with the legal process.  The Chief Justice went on to consider shining examples of progress in multidisciplinary youth courts and indigenous youth courts and stressed the importance of careful and open-minded consideration of reform in the area.

“If governments and policy-makers embrace the future of children and young people, the courts, I fully expect, will help.

A holistic approach based on a model of therapeutic jurisprudence will be well worth considering”, concluded her Honour.

The Austin Asche Oration in Law and Governance honours the service of Austin Asche AC QC to the people of the Northern Territory and his contribution to the law, tertiary education and to the community.

Read the Chief Justice’s full speech.

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