YOUTH JUSTICE (MISCELLANEOUS AMENDMENTS) BILL 2012

Mrs ARMITAGE ( Launceston ) - Mr President, I appreciated the briefings we had this morning; they cleared up many misunderstandings that I had with the bill. I believe the bill is an improvement and allows much more flexibility, particularly in the areas of community service, making it much broader. I go along the lines of the member for Rosevears. I particularly like the new section 6A regarding activities that may be performed as a community service, which enable young people to be involved in a range of programs that can include education and training. This is important, as some young people may never have the opportunity to get out and engage in these activities. I have no doubt that on some occasions it leads to different directions in their life.

White Lion was mentioned by the member for Rosevears speaking about employment and how they could start with that. I am sure the member for Apsley could comment further on White Lion, having been involved in raising money earlier in the year. White Lion seeks out opportunities for young people who have had perhaps a less-than-perfect start in life and have been involved in the youth justice system. They find them jobs in a way that, later on, if they can get some training or even get some work experience or some community service, they could gain references and make a start in finding a position or a career they might like to follow.

In some of the work that I have done with Tasmania Police as an independent person, on occasions I have come across young people who tell me that they do not think their life is worth anything. I had one young chap who was 16 and I asked him which school he went to and he named a primary school. I said, 'No, what high school do you go to?' He said, 'I have never been to high school. There is nothing for me, I am never going to become anything.' It was such a sad situation and as he told me, he lives from Ashley to Ashley and he was continuing to get caught up in the bail situation.

I was interested to read here about bail conditions not being such an issue because this young man had been bailed and he had a curfew. He had missed his first curfew and because he had missed his first curfew, every time the police turned up for the next curfew he hid because he knew he was in trouble for the first curfew. There were six curfews that he had missed. He was being charged for his bail, for not being there for six curfews. When they finally saw him, he was with people he should not be with, so he ran. He was charged again with evading police. When I asked him the question, 'Why did you run when you knew you were in trouble?' He said, 'The only people I know are people from Ashley and I am not allowed to associate with them but I don't know anyone else because I don't go to school and I haven't been to school.' I am thinking, this is a really sad situation and sometimes, unless we come across these people in our day-to-day lives, we do not appreciate the situation for some of these young people and what they are going through.

I see the community service, in the fact that they can have some education and they can have some opportunities, whether it be training or whether it be almost like a work experience, as a way they can discover they are not hopeless and useless just because they have got themselves into the youth justice system. I see many positives coming out of this bill and I hope we can extend it along the lines of the member for Rosevears, that there may be employers willing to take some of these people on in a private employment environment.

Mr Finch - It is likely to be through White Lion.

Mrs ARMITAGE - Absolutely, I have mentioned White Lion. That is right, whether they could join together. With the particular young man I spoke about with my independent person work, I asked the police, 'Where are you going to refer him now?' They said, 'We really don't have the opportunity to refer him anywhere.' He was going back to Ashley and there were no real programs, apart from maybe White Lion, when he came out. But he had this gap from the time he went to primary school. He was constantly in and out of Ashley and no-one wanted him to associate with their children and that is a really sad situation. He seemed to be a really decent young man; by all accounts from what the police were saying, he is a really nice young fellow but he just mixes with the wrong people. He is just one of many and that is the sad part. He is not an isolated case. There are lots of these nice young people. I, too, did some work with White Lion many years ago and used to do visits to Ashley. One -on-one, a lot of these young people were really nice young people but they had got themselves into a situation. It is as the member for Windermere said, there but for the grace of God, go I. So many could get into that situation if circumstances changed.

Mr Finch - Or from their background, they do not have the family support and nurturing that most children in our community have.

Mrs ARMITAGE - Absolutely, they do not, just by the fact that I myself, as an independent person, am called in so regularly to sit in with people who are under 18 when they get into the court system. They do not have a mother or a father who is willing to come in. If they do have them, they are not willing to come in and sit with them; they are not willing to be supportive and they do not have a parent or guardian. That some stranger has to come and sit with these young people, is very sad. The first thing they tend to do when you walk in is shake your hand; they are very pleasant and are grateful you have come. The police cannot move on and cannot interview them unless they have an adult there. I find it very sad that so many of these young people, who seem very decent, make mistakes. Don't we all? Some people do not get caught and take a different path and some people are caught and start on the other path. It is where they happen to be at the current time.

I see the bill before us as having many positives, and there are a few amendments to be made. I was grateful for the briefing this morning. It was good to hear from someone involved in these cases and where they thought there were positives and negatives. Most of the new clauses are included for commonsense or to make the system work better and to be less time-consuming for the police and the courts. Ambiguity is removed in many of the clauses and with a few minor changes that were suggested this morning, I am very happy to support this bill.

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