A Holistic Approach to Juvenile Offending


The Commonwealth and Northern Territory Governments signed an agreement on 27 July 2000 to enable the diversion of juveniles from the criminal justice system and to provide for joint funding of an Aboriginal Interpreter Service. In support of this agreement, a Juvenile Pre-Court Diversion Scheme (JDS) has been implemented in the Territory by the NT Police with the aim of diverting juvenile offenders from the formal justice system. Use of the courts remains appropriate where offences committed are of a more serious nature or other options have been tried and failed to prevent re-offending. Critically, the JDS response is proximate to the offence and not characterised by delays inherent in the traditional court processes. In the first 12 months of the operation of the Juvenile Diversion Scheme, 78% of all juvenile apprehensions were offered diversion with 2% of those offered declining the diversion. Diversion was denied to 21% of juvenile cases because of the seriousness of the offence or the impact upon the victim. The JDS provides for different levels of response to juvenile offenders: verbal and written warnings; family and victim offender conferences; formal and informal diversion programs (including substance and drug abuse programs, community-based programs); and prosecution. This paper presents statistics on outcomes to date of the JDS, describes program referrals and the establishment of Community Youth Development Units in remote communities, juvenile case management services and police Juvenile Diversion Units in Darwin and Alice Springs, and discusses the impact of the JDS on court appearances, reoffending and participant satisfaction.

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