Plan to support for young offenders in homes while on bail

Dale Wakefield.
Dale Wakefield.

The NT Government is calling for proposals for service providers to deliver supported bail accommodation programs in Darwin and Alice Springs.

Territory Families Minister Dale Wakefield said the programs would deliver support and accommodation services that will improve bail accountability for young people and support them onto a better path and away from a life of crime.

“Every Territorian has the right to feel safe and expect their homes, businesses and property to be secure, especially from a young person on bail,” Ms Wakefield said.

“The Government is fixing our broken youth justice system by improving bail accountability and providing the support and resources for young people to meet their bail conditions and rehabilitate to get on the right path.

“This is in stark contrast to the CLP Government, who cut services and funding to youth diversion which saw breach of bail offences increase by 51 per cent under their watch.

“The NT is the only jurisdiction in Australia that does not have a supported bail accommodation program.

“We have a large number of young people who are detained on remand because of concerns that their bail conditions won’t be able to be met and this program will improve those outcomes.

“We know that when a young person does not have access to appropriate support networks or accommodation they are more likely to re-offend or be remanded to detention by the courts which only continues the cycle of crime.”

The service will accommodate young people from the age of 10 to 17 released on bail, as an alternative to remand in detention. It will also be used as part of a through-care support system for young people leaving detention, who are subject to continuing bail conditions for a time after they leave detention.

Bail accommodation and services will be provided from Yirra House in Darwin, which is undergoing refurbishments. In Alice Springs, an existing youth facility will be repurposed and will accommodate staff and be manned 24 hours a day.

Minister Wakefield said that while some young people will still be required to be placed in detention, the supported bail accommodation is a more suitable alternative for many.

“Providing this accommodation ensures young people have a safe place to go to meet their bail conditions, which helps reduce the rates of repeat offending,” Ms Wakefield said.

“The providers of the accommodation and services will work alongside our 39 new Youth Outreach Officers to ensure consistency of support and accountability with education, employment, courts and families.”

Industry briefings are being provided to interested parties in Alice Springs and Darwin. Community information sessions will also be held in both locations.

Submissions close September 11.