• Youth justice supervision includes community-based supervision and detention. (Flickr)Source: Flickr
New youth justice reforms have been slammed for demonising children with advocates saying the new measures just won't work.
Keira Jenkins

23 Apr 2021 - 7:05 PM  UPDATED 23 Apr 2021 - 7:05 PM

The Queensland government's new youth justice reforms, including changes to the bail laws and a trial of GPS trackers for repeat offenders has passed through the state's parliament.

Townsville, North Brisbane, Moreton, Logan and the Gold Coast will be the trial centres for the new GPS trackers. 

The laws also include the presumption against bail for serious repeat offenders and the ability for courts to seek assurances from parents and guardians that young people will adhere to bail conditions before they're released.

The state's Youth Justice Minister, Leanne Linard, said the new measures will target a small group of "hardcore recidivist offenders".

But Change the Record co-chair Cheryl Axleby said the new laws will result in more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children ending up in the criminal justice system.

"This is just another knee-jerk reaction to deal with a very serious issue that is not going to be solved through the same old mantra on being tough on law and order," she told NITV News.

"...These kinds of laws have a devastating impact on our children, and it's not because they get in trouble. It's because of the way our children are brought into the justice system."

The QLD government has also promised a $98.4 million package to support their "crackdown" on youth crime.

"This new funding package backs up tougher measures and laws to monitor and supervise young offenders and provides more resources to frontline workers and courts to deal with repeat offenders," she said.

"Importantly this funding will ensure a greater level of supervision and support on weekends and out of hours...

"Community safety has always been a priority for the government, that is why we have continued to provide record funding for youth justice reform."

'Therapeutic responses'

Ms Axleby said the new laws are "short-sighted, discriminatory and ultimately dangerous", and the government's new funding package does not go far enough towards "therapeutic responses".

"We're going to keep doing the same thing and keep doing what we've always done, and in my view, we know it hasn't worked," she said.

"We can see it's not working for our First Nations children so why isn't there a commitment to do something different?

"I'm sure many Australians out there would want to see some therapeutic responses so that children are not coming back into the system.

"I think we all want that for our kids, for their future."

Ms Axleby said she wants to see more investment into early intervention, justice reinvestment, and a raise in the age of criminal responsibility.

Any solutions must be First Nations-led, she said.

"When we are in control and we come up with the solutions, we get better results for far less expenditure than what government do."

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