What is a youth justice conference?
A youth justice conference is an alternative to punishing a child offender in court.
It is a meeting of the child offender and the people who were affected by the crime. If the child admits they are guilty, the police or court, with the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, can arrange a Youth Justice Conference.
The point is to make sure the child understands they are responsible for the crime, and the effects their crime had on other people. The conference has an independent mediator called a convenor. The convenor tries to help the child, the child's family, the victim and other people affected by the crime to make decisions about how to repair the harm the child caused.
A youth justice conference is voluntary. If the victim does not want to go, they do not have to, however the conference might go ahead without them. If the child offender refuses to take part, they can be dealt with in court or some other way by police.
How long does a conference take?
They usually take under two hours.
What could be the result?
The child offender might agree to:
- do something to make the victim feel safer
- replace damaged property
- agree to accept help to stop committing offences
- do voluntary work for the community or an organisation the victim chooses.
This agreement is in writing.
If I am the victim, can I get financial assistance if the conference is successful?
To be eligible there must be an act of violence for a person to seek assistance. The act must be committed in Queensland and directly result in the death of, or injury to, a person. The offence needs to have been reported to police (although there is an exception in certain circumstances).
Generally, an act of violence must be an act committed against a person, and includes offences of attempting to commit an act of violence. Stalking and domestic violence will be covered. Property offences are excluded (eg break and enter, fraud and extortion).
The offender need not be identified, arrested, prosecuted or convicted.
How do I apply for assistance?
You must complete the approved form (available from Victim Assist Queensland), get a medical certificate if required, and other supporting documents.
An application must be made:
- within three years after the act of violence happens; or
- for related victims, three years after the death of the primary victim of the act; or
- for child victims, three years after the day the child turns 18.
An extension of time may be available in some cases.
The Assessor may ask a victim to undergo an examination by a health practitioner so that a report can be prepared.
Assistance may be paid entirely to the applicant, or partly to the applicant and partly to someone else, or entirely to someone else, like a counsellor or psychologist.
What if the youth justice conference doesn't work out?
- no agreement is reached, or
- the child doesn't comply, or
- the child doesn't turn up
the police or court will decide what to do. They might try another conference, or send the child to the criminal court.
Can I get financial assistance if the child offender gets convicted?
A victim of a crime committed by a child offender can apply for financial assistance from Victim Assist Queensland if there has been an act of violence which was reported to the police and the child has been identified.