On 24 August 2023, urgent amendments to the Youth Justice Act 1992 were passed by the Queensland Parliament.
These amendments, which commence on assent of the Child Protection (Offender Reporting and Offender Prohibition Order) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2023, reflect and validate what has been the understood and established practice for the last 30 years.
The amendments have the following effect:
- make lawful the longstanding practice of holding children in watchhouses until beds become available in youth detention centres
- make that practice more transparent by setting out criteria to be taken into account when deciding the prioritisation and timing of transfers
- provide a human rights declaration override declaration that applies to this decision making process until 31 December 2026
- make a retrospective amendment to address past incidences of children being held in police custody in watchhouses when s.56(4) orders have not been made
- provide a human rights override declaration for the establishment of youth detention centres until December 2026, in extraordinary circumstances
- address drafting errors in relation to the transfer of detainees aged 18 or over to adult custody.
On 22 March 2023, the Strengthening Community Safety Act 2023 came into effect, amending the Youth Justice Act 1992 and other legislation.
The amendments to the Youth Justice Act 1992:
- extend and expand the trial of electronic monitoring devices as a condition of bail for a further 2 years to include eligible 15-year-olds
- expand the list of offences with a presumption against bail to include people who are passengers in stolen vehicles and enter premises with intent to commit an indictable offence
- confirm in legislation that a court is to take into account the young person's bail history when sentencing
- empower a sentencing court to declare a child a 'serious repeat offender' (SRO) to enable considerations such as community safety to be paramount when sentencing
- extend the maximum duration of a conditional release order (CRO) from 3 months to 6 months
- ensure child offenders given a CRO for more serious offending are more likely to serve their suspended term of detention if they breach their CRO
- in certain circumstances allow the transfer of 18-year-olds to correctional centres rather than detention centres
- ensure the continuation of multi-agency collaborative panels (MACPs) which facilitate coordinated case management for young people identified as high risk or requiring a collaborative response.
The Criminal Code has also been amended to:
- increase the maximum sentence for unlawful use of motor vehicle offences and introduce new circumstances of aggravation, including where an offender has published boastful material of their offending behaviour on social media
- require unlawful use of motor vehicle offences with a circumstance of aggravation involving violence or being armed to be heard by a judge, attracting higher penalties.
The Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 has also been amended to provide that police are not required to consider alternatives to arrest if a child on bail for a prescribed indictable offence or certain domestic violence offences has contravened or is contravening a bail condition.
The Bail Act 1980 has been amended to make it an offence for a child to breach a condition of their bail.
Extension and expansion of electronic monitoring
Following the evaluation of the initial trial of electronic monitoring as a condition of bail (see 2021 amendments below), the provisions have been extended until 30 April 2025 (as noted above) and the Youth Justice Regulation 2016 has been amended to prescribe 3 additional locations:
- Mount Isa
A further review will be conducted towards the end of the extended period.
An extra $100 million is being invested into diversion and rehabilitation programs that are evidence based and proven to make a difference. Some of these programs include:
- expanding Intensive Case Management which targets chronic young offenders aged 13 to 17 years and their families to help break the cycle of crime
- expanding Youth Co-responder teams which are dedicated teams of police and youth justice workers who provide 24/7 coordinated responses to young people who are at risk of committing offences and young people on bail
- investing $4 million into On Country programs providing culture-based rehabilitation for young First Nations people
- investing more in grassroots early intervention, working with communities on programs that work.
- Strengthening Community Safety Act fact sheet (updated June 2023) (PDF, 287KB) or (DOCX, 224KB)
- Bill, explanatory notes, and human rights statement of compatibility
- Electronic monitoring trial evaluation report
The following more detailed resources are available for legal stakeholders, such as lawyers, police and courts:
- Bail amendments (PDF, 266KB) or (DOCX, 218KB)
- Conditional release orders (PDF, 241KB) or (DOCX, 219KB)
- Electronic monitoring (updated June 2023) (PDF, 341KB) or (DOCX, 222KB)
- Multi-agency collaborative panels (PDF, 243KB) or (DOCX, 215KB)
- 18yo detainee transfers (PDF, 239KB) or (DOCX, 219KB)
- 18yo remanded for child offence (PDF, 188KB) or (DOCX, 217KB)
- Serious repeat offender declarations (PDF, 250KB) or (DOCX, 216KB).
Amendments to the Youth Justice Act 1992 came into effect on 30 April (on assent) to strengthen accountability for serious repeat youth offenders.
This small proportion of youth offenders commit a disproportionately large number of offences, and have an unacceptable impact on community safety.
- introduce a limited presumption against bail for children charged with particular offences (including assault, attempted robbery, unauthorised use of a motor vehicle where the child is a driver, and dangerous driving) while on bail for an indictable offence
- introduce time limited (2 years) provisions for GPS monitoring as an available bail condition for young offenders aged 16 years and over charged with particular offences
- enable bail decision-makers to consider the willingness of a parent, guardian or other person to support a young person on bail, and advise of any relevant change of circumstances or breach of bail
- reinforce the existing youth justice principle to uphold community safety by adding an additional principle that the community should be protected from serious recidivist offenders
- codify the existing common law principle that offences committed on bail should be considered as an aggravating factor during sentencing
- clarify the existing provision that a young person cannot be remanded in custody solely because they do not have adequate accommodation or family support.
The Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 has been amended to:
- strengthen existing owner onus provisions for hooning offences
- provide police with time limited (2 years) powers to scan people for knives in public spaces within Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise safe night precincts (a trial will be reviewed after 12 months).
The GPS monitoring provisions will be applied to trial electronic monitoring technology in 5 locations (precise areas are prescribed in the Youth Justice Regulation 2016):
- North Brisbane
- Gold Coast.
The trial will be reviewed after 12 months.
More than $98 million over 4 years of new investment will also target the core serious repeat offender group and other young offenders. This funding will deliver 24/7 monitoring, supervision and support to these high-risk young people and their families.
Read our factsheets to learn more about:
- Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2021 (PDF, 497KB) or (DOCX, 462KB)
- Electronic monitoring trial (PDF, 339KB) or (DOCX, 219KB)
- New services to support the 2021 Youth Justice Act amendments (PDF, 459KB) or (DOCX, 458KB)
- Bill, explanatory notes and Human Rights Statement of Compatibility
- Amendment regulation
- Mr Bob Atkinson's (AO, APM) Review of the 2021 amendments (PDF, 2.9MB) or (DOCX, 1MB) and associated programs after the first 6 months of operation.
2020 amendments – youth bail
Laws to strengthen and simplify the bail decision-making process for young offenders were passed by the parliament on 17 June 2020 and commenced on 15 July 2020.
The amendments to the Youth Justice Act 1992 mean that children who are an unacceptable risk to the safety of the community must not be granted bail and will be kept in custody.
- 2020 bail law amendments factsheet (PDF, 464KB) or (DOCX, 274KB)
- Act (see part 13, division 8) and explanatory notes on the Queensland Legislation website
The new laws, passed on 22 August 2019, form part of the Queensland Government's $550 million investment in youth justice reforms, including new programs and services to keep young people out of custody and from re-offending.
The Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 was tabled in June 2019 and then referred to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee for consideration. After a detailed examination, which included submissions from stakeholders, the Committee recommended that it be passed.
The Act includes changes to the Youth Justice Act 1992 , the Bail Act 1980 , the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 and the Public Guardian Act 2014 , including:
- changes to the Charter of Youth Justice Principles
- recordings and use of body-worn cameras in detention centres
- insertion of a new sentencing principle into the Youth Justice Act 1992 regarding child homicide
- amendments to the Public Guardian Act 2014
- establishment of a contemporary information sharing framework under amendments to the Youth Justice Act
- amendments to the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 .