Amnesty Criticises Australia’s Lack of Focus on Youth Crime Initiatives

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Amnesty International has criticised the Albanese government’s apparent lack of funding for youth crime prevention in the federal budget.

Youth crime is a hot topic across Australia, with data showing underage offending is on the rise across the nation.

In an election year, it has become an issue politicians cannot afford to ignore.

But human rights organisation Amnesty International has questioned Tuesday’s budget and its apparent lack of measures to provide funding for justice reinvestment and youth diversion programs to keep young people out of the criminal justice system.

“Instead of funding programmes that support young people at risk of being criminalised and see them change the direction of their lives, the government has committed to building and expanding prisons to incarcerate children once they’ve already gone down this path,” a statement released by the organisation stated.

“The Labor government has missed an opportunity to address the root causes of youth crime and has instead chosen to continue funding systems of policing and incarceration that are known to only exacerbate harm to young people, their families, and their communities and set young people on a trajectory of trauma, disenfranchisement, and reoffending.”

In response to announcements made in the federal budget, Gomeroi woman and Amnesty International indigenous rights campaigner Kacey Teerman said the government’s lack of investment in justice reinvestment was disappointing.

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“Amnesty International Australia has been lobbying for an increase to the 2022-23 justice reinvestment package of $81.5 million, and we were hopeful that the federal government would lead the states and territories by adequately funding these desperately needed services, which would help keep children out of jail,” she said.

“This federal budget demonstrates a misguided prioritisation of resources. It is particularly disheartening to see the government boast a budget surplus while it refuses to fund alternatives to carceral systems that actually address the root causes of crime.”

According to Victoria’s Justice and Community Safety department, youth diversion programs work by providing support to young people rather than exposing them to anti-social peers and stigma that can increase their likelihood of reoffending.

The Epoch Times reached out to Justice Minister Di Farmer but did not hear back by publication time.

Question Mark Around Funding Deradicalisation Programs for Youth

There was also no apparent government funding for youth deradicalisation programs past this financial year.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw recently told 2GB radio that young people were at the highest risk of being radicalised online, with more than 20 youths aging from 11 to 17 catching their attention since 2021.

Australians were shocked on April 15 when a 16-year-old boy launched a stabbing attack on bishop Mari Emmanuel at the Christ the Good Shepherd Church in the Sydney suburb of Wakeley.

Multiple teens were arrested in the wake of the stabbing.

Another radicalised teenager, also 16, was fatally shot by police on May 7 outside a Perth Bunnings after he stabbed a 30-year-old man in the back with a 30 centimetre knife.

The boy was shot when he lunged at police.

He had texted multiple people before the event claiming he was “going on the path of Jihad tonight for the sake of Allah.”

The attacks followed the horrifying murder and robbery of a Queensland grandmother earlier this year.

A 70-year-old woman named Vyleen White was stabbed in the chest in the car park of the Redbank Plains Shopping Village, west of Brisbane, by a gang of youths in front of her granddaughter.

While Mrs. White’s stabbing was not considered a terror attack, it is one of many horrific youth crimes perpetrated in Australia this year.

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