Legislative Council: Tuesday, November 01, 2022


Youth Offending

The Hon. L.A. CURRAN (15:23): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking questions of the Attorney-General regarding youth.

Leave granted.

The Hon. L.A. CURRAN: On 24 September 2022 The Advertiser published an article titled 'Black, young and ruthless, the gang behind the high speed police chases'. The article was about a gang of youths aged between 12 and 15 who have been responsible for hundreds of crimes, including vehicle thefts, property damage, serious criminal trespass, assault, shop theft, possessing cannabis, robbery carrying offensive weapons, aggravated affray, stealing petrol and breaches of bail conditions.

Many of the gang members are in state care or under guardianship orders. In one case, a gang member aged 12 who lives in a Department for Child Protection care house in a northern suburb has had almost 300 infractions with police and was at the time of the article before the court on charges including breach of bail, illegal use of a motor vehicle, aggravated theft and aggravated robbery. He is also a suspect for a further 160 offences that include stealing petrol, assault, being unlawfully on premises, theft and carrying an offensive weapon. My questions to the Attorney-General are:

1. What is being done to help reduce youth offending?

2. What rehabilitation, counselling and other support services are being provided to youth offenders?

3. Do you work with the Department for Child Protection to ensure that youth reoffending does not occur?

4. What is being done for young children who are identified as repeat offenders to ensure that they do not reoffend?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:25): I thank the honourable member for her questions and her interest in the safety of the community and issues to do with justice in South Australia. This touches on a whole range and a number of portfolios, as the honourable member has mentioned in the question, including the Department of Human Services, the Department for Child Protection and obviously the processes through the Youth Court in my department and the Attorney-General's department.

It is, I think, a prime responsibility of any government to do what they can to keep the community safe, and that is certainly something we are looking at as a government. We are looking at different ways, and investigating different ways, that there may be other sorts of interventions that may support families and young people who offend. Different therapeutic models are being looked at and investigated, and we are also looking at different ways that services can support families in total and also children who are under state care.

As I said, I think it is a reasonable expectation of the community that the government has a priority to keep the community safe, and that is why we are looking at, and will continue to look at, measures that will do that.