People who become involved with the justice system often have diverse and complex needs. It is critical that services and communities are working together to address these needs and provide individuals and communities with the right supports, particularly given the severe impact of COVID-19 on Victorian communities.
The Strategy promotes a shared responsibility across government, councils, community, business and other key sectors to address risk factors for offending, build on successful initiatives that are already underway and support Victoria’s recovery from the pandemic. In doing so, the Strategy builds on existing investment in a number of key reforms across government that support Victorians to lead safe, secure and fulfilling lives
The Strategy also complements the Common Client reforms, which are a critical part of the government’s broader social recovery agenda. These reforms are focused on integrated service delivery to provide Victorians who have complex and intersecting needs with early access to effective services. Both the Strategy and the Common Client reforms seek to reduce offending and contact with the justice system by providing early support to individuals and communities.
Another key reform includes the establishment of Respect Victoria , an agency dedicated to the primary prevention of family and gender-based violence, which is a known risk factor for offending, as well as a crime in its own right. The Strategy recognises there are gendered differences in both offending and victimisation, and that cycles of violence have led to the disproportionate representation of victim survivors and perpetrators of family violence in the Victorian justice system.
The Strategy will also support young people who are at risk of offending by intervening early to prevent contact with the justice system. This complements work under the Youth Justice Strategic Plan , so that a range of support is provided across the spectrum of vulnerability to prevent offending and re-offending.
Victoria Police are also key partners in crime prevention. and the relationships between local police, community members, young people and service providers will be crucial to the implementation of the Strategy. Victoria Police oversee several programs which will assist with the Strategy’s crime prevention activities, such as the Community Liaison Officer Program, Proactive Policing Officers, the Embedded Youth Outreach Program and the Portfolio Reference Groups, which assist engagement with diverse communities.
The Victorian Government’s commitment to Aboriginal self-determination is reflected in the Strategy and will build on existing efforts across government to support multicultural communities, by supporting crime prevention efforts that are culturally responsive and led by communities. The Strategy will also leverage place-based work to engage communities and support at-risk youth, including Regional and Metropolitan Partnerships, as well as forming part of social recovery efforts in the wake of the pandemic to help build stronger communities into the future.
Common risk factors
- Experiences of violence, abuse or neglect – 53 per cent of young people in youth justice were victims of abuse, trauma or neglect as children. (Youth Justice Strategic Plan )
- Family and gendered violence – 42 per cent of children and young people in youth justice have been exposed to family violence, 87 per cent of female prisoners are victims of sexual, physical or emotional abuse. (Youth Justice Strategic Plan )
- Low school achievement and engagement – only 4 per cent of Victorian prisoners have completed secondary school (Annual Prisoner Statistical Profile 2006-07 to 2018-19), while 68 per cent of young people in custody had been suspended or expelled from school (Youth Parole Board Annual Report 2018-19
- Alcohol and other drug misuse – 52 per cent of offenders attributed their offending to use of alcohol and other drugs (Australian Institute of Criminology )
- Unemployment – 50 per cent of Victorian prisoners were unemployed prior to entering prison (Annual Prisoner Statistical Profile 2006-07 to 2018-19 )
- Areas with entrenched disadvantage are over-represented in offender statistics (dote.org.a )