Thursday 13 June 2013
Hansard of the Legislative
(MISCELLANEOUS AMENDMENTS) BILL 2012 (No. 51)
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President,
Tasmania's youth justice system has long needed fixing. As the second reading
speech explained, this has been long in the making. What we are considering
today was approved some time ago in the other place. It is a complicated
proposal and the result of many reviews to bring Tasmania's youth justice
legislation in line with contemporary thinking about the rehabilitation of
young offenders before they reach the stage of adult offenders and become
habitual offenders with far less chance of rehabilitation.
Legislative Council select committee review into the Ashley Youth Justice
Detention Centre in 2007, there was initial consultation with the people
involved in the youth justice system which raised a number of issues. Two of
them I consider crucial to the concept of rehabilitating young offenders and
getting them back into the community as useful members of society - diverting
young people from the court system and additional sentencing options. The court
system can involve delays which prevent young offenders getting jobs and
getting on with their lives. I mentioned in the chamber recently that there was
a young chap who was trying to do 300 hours of community service and he could
not get on with his life. He could not get a job because he had that commitment
to those penalties, deserved as they may have been. Magistrates are already
taking additional sentencing options which are more likely to lead to
I will quote
from the second reading:
the underlying principles of the act, which are accountability and restorative
justice, encouraging young people who offend to take responsibility for their
acts and restore the harm done to victims and the community.
consultation process provided a way forward, which led to this enlightened
bill. The concepts and principles that informed the amendments we are
considering are listed in the second reading speech. They are carefully
considered, eminently logical and will have the desired effect of helping young
people who are going through a difficult time in their growing up. It will help
them to become constructive and law-abiding adults, one would hope.
affected some of the original measures, including community service. This is a
pity because community service orders have great rehabilitation potential. They
should not be seen as a punishment but as an opportunity.
Ms Rattray - They show the community that
people who do not do the right thing are back in the community making amends
for their ways. It is a good opportunity for them to be back in the community.
Mr FINCH - I use that word, and it is one
that has resonated with me, too. While I am happy about the way this bill deals
with the issue, I would like to see a lot more investigation into that
potential of community service. Why can it not be extended to incorporate
on-the-job training? Why cannot community service end up in that job
opportunity? Why cannot community service become something more useful
altogether, by extending it into the private job sector with appropriate
supervision? That might be an extrapolation of where we are today. I believe those
are the sorts of issues that need to be looked at in the future. Properly
resourced community service is far preferable and more effective than
incarceration in Ashley, even though it is in the beautiful district of the
Western Tiers electorate. This situation would be better for offenders, better
for the community and no doubt it will be better for the budget.
I strongly support the intentions of this bill.
Mr Hall - Before you sit down, you say that
it is preferable to having an institution like Ashley, but if you get habitual,
hardcore offenders, what do you do? What do you with some of those people?
Mr FINCH - That is the conundrum, isn't it?
As we have seen, with the concern that you have expressed and brought to this
place constantly about the role that Ashley plays in our community, it is
appropriate that the resources are still there. In the world in which we live
and the way we are functioning in Tasmania, and the need for these young people
to be supported as best we can in a place that does play a role at this time,
of course we have to give every chance to those people who may be early
offenders. That is what I am suggesting here: before they become those habitual
adult criminals, we as a society need to do the best that we can to make sure
that they have that opportunity to develop and grow. They might be from those
backgrounds that do not give them that support they desperately need.
Of course we
all make mistakes. As I say to young people, if you are not making mistakes you
are not making anything. That is the path down which we have all trodden. We
have all been there. We have all made mistakes.
Mr FINCH - Except for the member for Western
Mr Dean - There but for the grace of God, go
Mr FINCH - Yes. But you would know, member
for Windermere. You have dealt with the process through your years as a police
officer. You have seen yourself some of the old-style policing that I might
refer back to, where the old-fashioned copper, in a lot of ways, knew how to
deal with young people but did not - 'crucify' is probably not the right word
but - crucify them for the mistakes that they made but tried to steer them away
and set them on a better course. You can be too heavy-handed, but I am not so
naïve as to not know that there are some that require more help than others. I
am sure that some stories could unfold about what you have witnessed, member
As a society
and through this bill we have to try to do the best we can to make sure our
young people are given that signal that we want them to come away from the
situation they have found themselves in and to forge a better future for
themselves and, subsequently, for Tasmania.
Ms Rattray - Before the honourable member
leaves the podium, are you aware of any people with the ability to supervise
community service orders? That has been an issue in the past.
Mr FINCH - Had I had that at the front of my
mind I might have introduced that into my second reading contribution but, no,
I am not aware of this issue. Even my reference to somebody with community
orders was just a one-off situation or just a bit of information that came to
Ms Rattray - I will ask the honourable leader,
he might have some idea.
Mr FINCH - Thanks, Mr President.