Stop Failing Our Kids! Fix the failing Juvenile Justice System in Victoria [Phase II]

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Stop Failing our Kids Campaign Phase II - Petition and Demands

After the successful launch of the Stop Failing our Kids Campaign on 25 May 2017, ISJA Melbourne presented a petition to Minister for Families and Children and Minister for Youth Affairs, Jenny Mikakos, signed by approximately 1200 people, at a speak out action outside Mikakos’ office on 22 November 2017. These approximately 1200 supporters of the campaign expressed their concern and frustration with the injustices and human rights abuses being inflicted on children and young people, particularly First Nations children, in the ‘care’ of the Victorian youth justice system.

Since the campaign launched in May of 2017 we have witnessed the horrors revealed in the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory. The federal government has constrained the jurisdiction of this royal commission to the Northern Territory, however government officials, jurists and the commissioners themselves have repeatedly stated that the findings and recommendations are relevant to all Australian jurisdictions.

Despite the spotlight being temporarily shone on the youth justice system, the Victorian government continues to push ahead with the establishment of another youth detention facility at Cherry Creek, and the rates of removal of First Nations children into ‘out-of-home care’ in Victoria continues to rise beyond levels of the Stolen Generations period.

This petition commences the second phase of the Stop Failing our Kids Campaign. This phase aims to continue to place scrutiny and accountability on the Victorian government in its duty of care to children and young people in the developing context of the racialized, ‘tough on crime’ election year rhetoric that has already seen the federal government intervene in Victorian politics with its unfounded “African Gangs” scare campaign. It also seeks to broaden its focus to include the harms inflicted upon children and young people being illegitimately removed into ‘out-of-home-care’, and to highlight the alarming phenomenon of children being funnelled from this system into the criminal justice system.

ISJA Melbourne respects the sovereignty of all First Nations across the continent of Australia — as well as Indigenous groups globally — and acknowledges and supports First People’s continuing resistance to the invalid imposition of settler-colonial legal systems. ISJA Melbourne supports First Nations Peoples in their promotion of their rights to practice and participate in enduring First Nations customary legal frameworks. ISJA Melbourne laments the present lack of recognition for Indigenous rights in Australia, and the Australian State’s refusal to recognise rights to self-determination and self-governance in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), to which Australia is a signatory. While ISJA Melbourne staunchly advocates for the recognition of these rights, we understand the need to engage with the implementation of the settler-colonial legal system and its present impacts on First Nations people, particularly First Nations children. In keeping with this, ISJA Melbourne asks you to show your support in signing this petition as a part of the Stop Failing our Kids Campaign, including the demands outlined below.


We demand:

  1. An immediate end to the police practice of racial profiling which exacerbates the rates of criminalisation and detention of children and young people. Make police accountable through elected civilian bodies with powers to exercise community control over the police.
  2. Stop failing Victorian children – keep young people out of adult facilities!
  3. An immediate end to the practice of lockdowns, isolation and other forms of punishment
  4. Reject the use of the anti-riot squad: guns, capsicum spray and batons have NO place in Victorian juvenile justice facilities
  5. Rehabilitation not punishment! Provide high quality education, recreation and health care programs within the juvenile justice system
  6. Reject the imprisonment of untried juveniles. Implement all 339 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the recommendations of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory, including that imprisonment must be the LAST resort.
  7. Stop the ongoing cuts to housing and social welfare programs. Fully fund culturally appropriate services to keep young people out of the failing child protection system, including addressing the overrepresentation of First Nations children in ‘out-of-home care’, as this system increases disadvantage and contributes to contact with the criminal justice system.
  8. Make the Victorian government and corrective services more accountable: produce and release timely and transparent Youth Justice and Youth Protection data, including the raw data, and make both the data and response publicly available for analysis and scrutiny.