Youth Justice and child wellbeing reform across Australia

Read our submission here.

Women’s Legal Services Australia (WLSA) thanks the National Children’s Commissioner for the opportunity to provide feedback on Youth Justice and Child Wellbeing Reform across Australia.

WLSA acknowledges the overwhelming and disproportionate harm and loss experienced by First Nations people in both the criminal justice system and the child protection systems. These systems have been scrutinised for decades, with no visible improvement in the experience of First Nations children and young people.

A genuine commitment and priority to First Nations led reform is long overdue. All laws, policies and procedures must be continually reviewed and amended to ensure that they are culturally safe, inclusive of First Nations Law and customs, committed to self-determination and not perpetuating further harm though structural racism.

Our submission focuses on:

  • Correlations between childhood trauma, child protection engagement and the criminal justice system
  • Recognising the distinct and related needs of adult and child victim-survivors
  • Ensuring the best interests of the child remains paramount
  • Supporting mothers at risk to care for their children
  • Misidentification and post separation abuse
  • Early legal assistance for families at risk
  • Preventing removal of infants at birth
  • Access to housing support
  • Keeping mothers out of prison
  • Raising the age of criminal responsibility