Intense supervision is to be introduced for hard-core juvenile offenders after their release from detention.
The supervision will be provided by a serious offender taskforce, which will monitor and provide mentors for newly-released offenders. The taskforce will be operating by Christmas.
Youth Justice Minister Eric Ripper today gave details of the initiative during the launch of the Youth Justice Bureau, which was part of the next phase in the State Government's youth justice strategy.
The Youth Justice Bureau would co-ordinate juvenile crime preventive measures across all Government departments, be responsible for the detention and rehabilitation of young offenders and implement Children's Court orders.
Mr Ripper said the taskforce mentors would be positive role models or `guardian angels' for the hard-core offenders, providing practical individual support and guidance, while assisting them to become involved in constructive education, employment and recreational activities.
Other initiatives co-ordinated by the bureau included:
· the development of legislation for a juvenile parole system, to enable a process of supervised release after periods in secure juvenile detention;
· the establishment of Youth Justice teams, with representatives from the bureau, the police, the Education Ministry and the Aboriginal community, to involve families and communities in developing programs for at-risk young people at a local level;
· the expansion to other areas across the State of the victim-offender reparation scheme, where offenders meet face-to-face with victims, to apologise and discuss restitution.
Mr Ripper said the latest juvenile justice statistics showed that fewer young Western Australians were being caught up in the juvenile crime cycle. The reductions indicated that community-based, early intervention and prevention programs, introduced in 1988 through the Kids and Crime package and expanded since then, were taking effect.
Recent initiatives also to have an impact were the introduction of formal police cautioning of minor juvenile offenders and tough legislation for the minority of serious repeat offenders.
Juvenile justice figures, comparing 1991-92 figures with those in 1988-89, showed:
· a 31 per cent fall in the number of individuals before the Children's Court;
· a 23 per cent reduction in the number of charges.
In the last three years:
· occupancy rates of juvenile detention centres had declined by 20 per cent;
· admission rates had fallen by 34 per cent;
· the average sentence length had nearly doubled.
"These figures indicate the success of the strategy to divert early offenders away from the court system, to reserve the use of secure custody for serious offenders.
"This is in line with the Government's comprehensive and balanced juvenile justice strategy, which focuses on early intervention, prevention and rehabilitation, with specific legislation to target the hard-core offenders, as a last resort, to protect the community."