Children and Young Offenders

Reoffending by Young People

In July 2016, the Council began a project exploring the reoffending patterns of children and young people sentenced in the Children’s Court from July 2008 to June 2009.

The Council used its court-based reoffending database to examine:

  • the proportion of children and young people who reoffended
  • the nature and quantity of reoffending
  • the proportion of children and young people who continued offending as adults.

The project also considered:

  • factors associated with reoffending, in particular, the age of the offenders at the time of their first sentence
  • whether reoffending rates changed for offenders over time.

The Council published its findings in Reoffending by Children and Young People in Victoria, released in December 2016.

The project has built on the Council’s previous work on reoffending:

This project has added to the Council’s previous research on the sentencing of children and young people:

Sentencing Children in Victoria: Data Update

The Council has prepared an update of select sentencing data from its 2012 report Sentencing Children and Young People in Victoria. That report contained detailed analysis of sentencing of children and young people for the 10 years from 2000 to 2009 (inclusive).

This project arose in the context of recent observations of a decline in youth offending, both in Victoria and in other Australian and international jurisdictions.

The project focused on the sentencing of children in the six calendar years from 2010 to 2015 (inclusive). It examined sentencing practices in the Children’s Court, along with a brief analysis of sentences imposed on children in the higher courts.

The project did not include data on the sentencing of young adult offenders (aged 18 to under 21), which was the focus of the Council’s recent report Changes to Sentencing Practice: Young Adult Offenders.

Sentencing Children in Victoria: Data Update Report was published in July 2016. 

Changes to Sentencing Practice: Young Adult Offenders

The Council has researched the extent to which recent changes to intermediate sentencing options (e.g. the phasing out of suspended sentences) in Victoria have influenced sentencing practices for young adult offenders (18 years or over and under 21 at the time of sentencing).  This group of offenders is a subset of the group of offenders aged under 21 that are defined as ‘young offenders’ by section 3 of the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic). 

The analysis examines the longitudinal trends for sentencing for this age group in two ways.  First, the variations in the number of young adult offenders sentenced are considered.  Second, the differences in the sentencing outcomes for those offenders are explored.  The reference period for this analysis is the five financial years from 2009–10 to 2013–14.

Published in April 2015, Changes to Sentencing Practice: Young Adult Offenders demonstrates that there has been a large decline in the number of young adult offenders sentenced in Victoria in recent years.  The analysis also demonstrates that, for young adult offenders who are sentenced, there has been a notable increase in the use of the recently introduced community correction order.  The report canvasses some possible reasons for these trends and outlines some directions for future research.

Sentencing Children and Young People in Victoria

The Council has undertaken research into sentencing practices and outcomes in the Children’s Court for the period 2000 to 2009. The Council also examined the sentencing of young people aged 18 to 21 under the ‘dual track’ system, whereby in particular circumstances young people (aged under 21 years) may be sentenced to serve their custodial sentence in a youth justice centre as a direct alternative to a sentence of imprisonment.  

The Council’s report on sentencing children and young people in Victoria:

  • provides contextual material on the operation, functions and philosophy of the Criminal Division of the Children’s Court of Victoria
  • provides a statistical profile of offences heard and sentencing outcomes (including sentencing outcomes under the ‘dual track’ system)
  • identifies and analyses changes over the period 2000 to 2009 in the types of offences heard by the court, demographics of offenders and sentencing outcomes.

This project assists in addressing the lack of publicly accessible data on the Children’s Court. The report, released in April 2012, is an important addition to the Council’s work on sentencing in Victorian courts.

Following publication of the Sentencing Children and Young People in Victoria report, a formalised youth diversion pilot program commenced in May 2015 to add to the range of options for sentencing young people in Victoria.