An article appeared in the Herald Sun on the 20th of June under the above heading and exposed the real and present dangers that Victorians face.

Crimes involving children as young as 10 years old have soared to their highest level since 2010 as alarming new figures reveal the state’s growing youth crime wave.

Children aged 14 to 17 years old were “over-represented” in burglaries, assaults, robberies and car thefts while almost 400 youth gang members were arrested within the past 12 months.

Baby-faced offenders aged 10 or 11 years old also recorded a 52.6 per cent spike in the number of offences committed.

More than a third of young criminals aged between 10 and 17 years old are repeat offenders, with the number of recidivist offenders rising by 10.4 per cent.

Children aged 10 to 13 years old were responsible for 84 aggravated burglaries across the state.

Five years ago, they had only been involved in 18.

These alarming figures are from the Crimes Statistics Agency Victoria, and apart from the danger these figures indicate, we are exposed to the more problematic fact that the Government is working hard to fan the flames of the issue, not resolve it.

More importantly, the government holds overall responsibility and is protecting ineptitude in the various arms of governments responsible for managing youth crime.

These must be held to account as much as the government.

The Courts

Daily, yet another juvenile responsible for atrocious crimes is being granted bail.

And given the Bail Act, it makes us wonder just what the judiciary is at.

The recent Bail Amendment Act 2023 (the Act), which commenced on 25 March 2024, made further changes to the Bail Act 1977, seeking to ensure bail laws protect the whole community and better target the use of remand for cases where it is necessary to prevent an unacceptable risk to community safety.-

The Act is clear and applies standard English interpretations to the understanding of the Act’s purpose as amended; how do the courts circumnavigate this legislation, not occasionally but regularly, without apparent intervention by the government?

If the Attorney General does not provide leadership, the Director of Public Prosecutions must appeal some of these Court decisions.

What’s the good of having a government that produces a law that the courts ignore, suggesting they are not interested in subservience to the legislation?

It is our opinion that we are reaping the folly of the Restorative Justice fantasy forced on us as a solution to crime, but it has been an abject failure – just look at the crime statistics.

Why would any sane, reasonable person countenance any principles of that failed social experiment defies logic? And it is even more astounding that the judiciary could be seduced by this rubbish.

The Police

The Police do not help the whole issue.

The first point is that they need to stop making excuses that support the mindset that they can arrest their way out of the problem.

It took two decades to convert the Victoria Police Force under two visionary Chief Commissioners, Miller and Glare, from one predominantly reactive (as they are today) to a predominantly proactive force, particularly with youth.

The results were that crime by juveniles was not the epidemic it now is, and overall, crime declined as fewer juvenile offenders grew into adult offenders rather than managing and encouraging the juveniles into crime.

It took only one Chief Commissioner to destroy the effective direction of the force and three consecutive Chiefs, predominantly with a background of exclusive reactive federal police experience, to ensure the proactive approach was kept from developing, even though many operational police know the value of the proactive approach but gained no support as the police priority remains reactive.

The current Chief Commissioner has attempted to push back against the trend with limited success, as the crime statistics illustrate.

There is a major problem when you have an Acting Deputy Commissioner of Regional Operations, Brett Curran, quoted as saying, “A small group of hardened” young criminals were now committing severe and violent crimes more often.” (spin)

The following line says, ‘nearly 400 youth gang members have been arrested in the past 12 months.’ (fact)

 Mr Curran also said, “Police arrested seven youth gang members, child thieves and car thieves every day during the past year.” (Spin)

That claim by Mr Curran equates to 2,555 youth gang member arrests, not nearly 400.

Indeed, some are arrested time and time again.  Why? Because the courts are failing in their duty to the citizens of this state.

So much for the claim of a small number.

Victims would undoubtedly be impressed by the Deputies’ analysis (and maths) as they try to put their lives back together after an experience with the “small group”.

We wonder whether the Deputy who spent a considerable time out of policing as Daniel Andrew’s Chief of Staff has lost perspective.

As a Police executive, he has to learn not to use political spin he knew in his last job. The community sees straight through it and expects better from their Police leadership.


Department of Justice Youth Workers

Very little is said about their role or lack of success in the youth space, so we generally can only rely on the data, and by that measure, they have failed demonstrably.

They are referred to often in legislative discussions and are provided with powers to do their job. Still, there is something obviously and categorically wrong with the function of that government component.

These Youth workers aim to empower –  young people in custody to steer their lives in a more positive direction when they return to the community”.


What a nonsensical function because the courts have demonstrated they are determined to have no juveniles of any age in custody. This supports the view that the courts wear this as a badge of honour and a demonstration that they are not subservient to the legislation. It is very dangerous and challenging to our democracy.

So, theoretically, those youth workers at the Department of Justice have little to do, as no juveniles are returning to the community; they never left.


Lifting the age of criminal responsibility

If a government were ever grossly tone-deaf, this issue is a classic. The age of criminal responsibility is planned to move from 10 to 14 years during a youth crime tsunami that the CAA warned was coming nine years ago. This has got to be the stupidest act any government has embarked upon in the crime space.

All this is based on is a feared notion that all children will end up in jail – which they don’t. Ideological nonsense is based on no empirical evidence.

This rubbish sways a government that wants to be taken seriously and is in denial of reality, a dangerous place for any government.

Moreover, children in this age bracket only ever get charged as distinct from being put in jail if they are not Doli Incapax, meaning incapable of forming criminal intent.

The question, therefore, is what to do with these miscreants, and that is a million-dollar question that all the “experts” advising the government on the bill have failed to resolve because no solution is offered.

The non-solution

The non-solution was reported as,

‘Police would still retain the power to intervene with younger offenders, including having the power to transport ten and 11-year-olds that find themselves in trouble with the law.’

The solution

The solution remains as elusive as it always has, and this legislation will not help, as it lacks a fundamental guiding principle for children and young people: accountability.

If children, or anybody, knows there are no consequences for criminal behaviour, then that’s what they will do, and they won’t change. Why would they if they enjoy it?

The problem is a lack of foresight and understanding of children and juveniles.

Children and Juveniles who play sports are less likely to commit offences, and the key is that sport has rules, and if the rules are disobeyed, there are consequences. That applies whether they are spectators or participants. Those youths who regularly attend school are also less likely to offend than those who don’t; again, rules with consequences.

Most people of all ages live within society’s rules; if they digress, there are consequences.

A significant contributor by a long measure to our present youth crisis is that for criminal behaviour, there are no consequences if you break the rules.

The issue of incarceration of children has been the primary driver for this reform, based on the emotive argument ‘you can’t put children in jail’, but the problem is being viewed from the wrong perspective.

The reform must encompass the principle of consequences, as all the other approaches are ineffective.

Rather than demonise the broad ‘jail’ concept, we should look at how it can positively affect young people.

We have long advocated that the justice system is too afraid to deal with the crisis of putting a child in jail, and often, that is not serving the interest of the juvenile or child.

One of the current flaws is that the judiciary views young offenders when considering penalties from an adult perspective.

Young people have a different perspective of time than adults, and a week or so in detention, where they gain privileges by compliance, will have a marked positive impact on them.

Young people respond exceptionally well to rules as they offer some solace and security; however, if they have never been taught discipline and breaking rules has consequences, it doesn’t work.

We are not talking about traditional views of jail but of securing the young person without privileges for weeks, not years. Their behaviour dictates the time they are in secure accommodation, not the judiciary. As much as the judiciary thinks they know how a child will respond, they don’t because they are not there with the child 24/7.

There are significant omissions in the proposed Youth Justice Bill currently before Parliament.

The most significant omission in the Bill

As much as the parents of these miscreants (if they have any) are criticised for lack of action, the Bill does nothing to elevate the role of the parents or guardians.

Yes, there are hopeless parents responsible for troubled children, but the vast majority try; many try but are judged poorly, and there is no provision to help upskill parents, and they have all but been omitted from this Bill. They have an essential role to play in reinforcing other initiatives.

Home detention

Supported by electronic monitoring, home detention should be the first option for any child convicted of an offence. Children do not understand ‘Orders’, and the other plethora of titles bandied about in the Courtroom.

Many need to understand that if they walk out after a court hearing unpenalized after a hearing, they haven’t necessarily beaten the charges, and their bragging rights within their cohort are worthless.

The new sophisticated Electronic Monitoring (EM) devices can fix a virtual perimeter for the child to live within, while providing for their education, sports and other essential family functions.

The EM device can alert a parent their child is leaving the house, breaching physical or social media curfew rather than finding they are gone the following day. Home detention means they cannot exercise their free will outside boundaries, and the EM gives the parents the tools they need to enforce it.

Use of their social media devices also needs to be controlled, and privileges gained by good behaviour and compliance to the rules, allowing more access.

The length of time that the child is in home detention should be based on the child’s or youth’s behavioural improvement.

Home detention is a very cost-effective way to manage miscreant children and divert them out of their criminal behavioural cycle.

Although we won’t hold our breath, maybe the enlightened members of parliament will see this legislation for what it is: a half-baked hotchpotch of ideological one-liners masquerading as legislation for the betterment of the State and its children.

There indeed are flaws in the current system, and they should be fixed rather than embarking on an untried excursion. Fix it; don’t replace it with thousands of pages of convoluted rubbish that will only hurt our most vulnerable children.

Inevitably, this legislation will leave vulnerable children at further risk, will do nothing to prevent more victims from being traumatised and will further impede effective policing.

An urgent community-based examination of a better way forward might lead to a real improvement in our juvenile justice system.

Simply raising the age of criminal culpability will have the effect of increasing crime as there are no barriers to young people offending.