Media Releases - 1 March 2024

Populist rhetoric has no place post-Commission of Inquiry

Tasmanian Commissioner for Children and Young People Leanne McLean today called for the prioritisation of children’s rights and wellbeing in public discussion and debate about “youth crime”.

“It is incumbent on us as adults to ensure that when an issue like ‘youth crime’ is raised publicly, it is done so responsibly, acknowledges the complexity of the issue and does no harm to children and young people,” Ms McLean said.

“It is disappointing that punitive tough on crime rhetoric is being promulgated after the recent Commission of Inquiry in Tasmania which demonstrated irrefutably that our systems have failed to protect children and to keep them safe from harm.”

“These statements have no place post-Commission of Inquiry. They show blatant disregard for the rights of children and our obligation as adults to care for them and to support their development.”

Ms McLean said the Tasmanian community knows what works to improve safety and to reduce children’s harmful behaviour.

“The Commission of Inquiry has now set the path for reform, including a raised age of criminal responsibility to 14, a raised age of detention to 16 and a therapeutic model of care for youth justice in Tasmania.”

“The Commission of Inquiry said in their final report that the Government should:

develop and provide a range of community-based health, welfare and disability programs and services that are tailored to meet the needs of children and young people under the age of 14 years who are engaging in antisocial behaviour, and to address the factors contributing to that behaviour.

I note this recommendation was accepted and is echoed in Tasmania’s Youth Justice Blueprint.”

“Punitive, populist, tough on crime announcements might make for good media, but they do not make Tasmanian communities safer.”

“We cannot arrest our way out of these complex problems.”