(‘Whack-a-Mole’ is a 1970s arcade-style game that lives up to its name. It consists of Moles popping up out of their burrows randomly and the players trying to wack them with a mallet.)

At a time when the youth crisis is in an out-of-control spiral, irrespective of how the government tries to spin the problem, the Government is using the police force in a futile effort to resolve the issue by forcing them to play ‘Wack-A-Mole

Additionally, the government trumpets action, which turns out to be inaction, that the community is supposed to accept, but it is all smoke and mirrors with no clear strategy.

The problem that we face with young people and crime, in general, is that nobody is doing anything about reducing crime before it occurs. They would rather play ‘Wack-a-Mol’,

As reported in the Herald Sun,

  • Vehicle thefts have jumped by 25% to 40000.
  • 59,000 motorists had valuables stolen from their vehicles.

And the advice for drivers was to lock their cars and hide valuables – the victim’s fault.

These statistics become more concerning yearly – more offences, more victims.

This crime is shared between opportunistic drug addicts to fund their addiction and juveniles out for ‘the thrill’. The crime surge is the fault of weak legislation and poor strategies to combat crime. Blaming the victim is unforgivable.

But never fear. The government has spent five years drafting a new Youth Justice Bill to address the current anomalies in the Judicial system.

The Bill, if enacted in its present form, will add to the crime problem, not diminish it, as its sole focus is diverting young people from the Justice system after they offend, and its 900 pages do not mention once, what can be done with younger children, to divert them from crime. However, it expends a lot of words to remove concepts of accountability and consequences from all young offenders.

It also lifts the age of criminal responsibility to 13 years from 10 years, an ideological whim not only contradicts the empirical evidence published by government agencies but expends no energy on how these children in that underage cohort who commit crimes will be dealt with.

‘Alarming statistics released in June found crimes involving children as young as ten had soared to their highest level since 2010, with a 52.6 per cent spike in offences committed by ten and 11-year-olds.

Children aged 10 to 13 years old were responsible for 84 aggravated burglaries, while those aged 14 to 17 were considered to be “over-represented” in burglaries, assaults, robberies and car thefts – HS 10.7.2024

A cynic may suggest that the statistics don’t show children younger than 10 committing crimes because they are below the legislated age of criminal intent. That cohort will show a 100% decline in children aged 10 and 11 committing crimes when the age is lifted.

Will the government exploit this statistical foible to pretend they’re solving the problem? Doubtless, they will.

With contributions like ‘dob in a mate’ the latest government offering, all we can say is, ‘good luck with that’. However, it points to the disconnect between the government and its advisers and the real world.

The reality is that Police and the community will just have to wait until a perpetrator turns 13 before their criminal endeavours can perhaps be curtailed. On occasions, police in the past have had to wait until a child turns ten before they can be presented to the judicial system to curb their criminal behaviour.

These arbitrary age limits do not necessarily coincide with the child’s acuity development or when a child is acting in concert with others who may be older in the commission of crimes.

They must be scrapped.

Of course, being charged is only part of the problem. The main issues are,

  • Ineffective bail laws.

The failure of the Bail Laws, which the Courts say is not their fault but the legislators, is the lamest excuse ever hidden behind, a weak excuse and entirely accurate.

  • Failure to hold children to account for their actions.

If criminal behaviour does not have consequences, what motivation exists to change children’s behaviour – talk fests and meetings don’t cut it.

  • Failure to apply sanctions for criminality.

The law is based, in part, on a fear (Deterrent factor) that certain unacceptable behaviours attract sanctions imposed by a Court, but illogically, this concept is removed from children, which is a significant part of the problem as they seldom suffer any accurate or effective sanctions.

The future for the children is not looking good; by the time their unlawful behaviour is checked, crime is entrenched in their psyche or soul, and the chances of rehabilitation are problematic.

Easy bail is only one of the many illogical approaches the government has persisted with, as, for example, the most recent absconding of a juvenile bailed on charges of culpable driving causing death after a stolen car he was allegedly driving ploughed into another vehicle, killing the occupant.

The perpetrator absconded within hours of being bailed, and the real fear is that he was behind the wheel of another stolen car. Now in custody, what he did for the three days on the run will no doubt be exposed in due course.

In this matter, the government and the courts have blood on their hands, but will that be enough to have them wake up and do their job in the community’s best interests?

The CAA calls on the government to act before more innocent lives are lost.

  • Immediately amend the Bail Act to unshackle the Courts (who will then have no excuse) and follow the New South Wales model of liberalising the ability of the courts to reject applications for the privilege of Bail in appropriate cases.
  • Immediately reinstate the offence of breach of bail conditions.
  • Immediately abandon the notion of lifting the age for criminal intent. All children develop at different stages; therefore, the age is somewhat irrelevant anyway, and all ages should be removed instead, relying on the common law principle of doli incapaxa, a Latin phrase meaning “incapable of evil”, a defence available to all children.  children under 14 years.
  • Immediately develop proactive initiatives that divert young people from crime before offending rather than relying on diversion programs after offending.
  • Immediately abandon the flawed Youth Justice Bill, which, if enacted, will increase the crime rate.

The ball is now squarely in the Government’s court, and a failure to act as outlined will condemn this government forever.