Justice and Corrections

Labor is committed to building stronger, safer and more resilient communities.

To do this, we must ensure that our justice system is focussed on addressing the root causes of crime and reducing rates of reoffending.

Building bigger jails is not the best way to keep the community safe.

We need an evidence-based approach to justice that reduces crime and rehabilitates offenders.

Specialised Courts

Increase capacity of court diversion programs

Labor will expand the Court Mandated Diversion program into the Supreme Court and increase the capped number of places who can access the court.

The Magistrates Court began expanding the specialised court system in 2007 from youth justice to some adult cases involving drugs, people with mental health issues and family violence matters.

These problem solving courts allow magistrates to address the causes of crime directly with the offender.

The court works by ensuring that obligations undertaken by an offender to participate in programs, as part of their sentence, are followed.

The offender is kept to account by being brought back before the magistrate on a regular basis to ensure that person is undertaking the rehabilitation they have promised to do.

The programs have led to less recidivism, therefore less crime, less victims and less cost to the justice system.

Currently the Court Mandated Diversion program, which deals with drug offenders, has been capped at 80 places in the Magistrates Court.

A Labor Government will expand the Court Mandated Diversion program into the Supreme Court and increase the cap to 120 places

A Labor Government will also consult on a model for a combined Therapeutic Division of the Magistrates Court and Supreme Court to provide a legislative basis for all specialised courts

Pilot drink driving court

Labor is committed to funding the pilot of a specialised court to address drink driver offending.

To support repeat drink drivers to change their behaviour and reduce the risk to other road users, a drink driving problem solving court would be trialled by a Labor Government to assist offenders address their drinking problem.

(Total Cost: $1.8m)

Restorative Justice Practices

Labor will expand restorative justice practices used in youth justice into the adult system. In the youth justice system restorative justice practices have helped to divert a young people away from crime with some success. Recidivism rates have reduced.

Community conferencing used in the process enables the victim to meet with the offender to inform them of the impact of their crime and be part of the outcome. The outcome is arrived at by consensus with the offender, the victim and the police officer overseeing the conference.

In the adult system there is limited availability of restorative practice approaches, and these practices are rarely used.

A restorative justice approach in the adult justice system would exclude certain crimes, such as family violence, serious violence, sexual offences and dangerous weapons offences.

A Labor Government will task the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute to reference the expansion of restorative justice practices for adult offenders (cost $120,000)

Youth diversion programs

Save the Children delivers programs to support young people transition from detention and on bail.  However, their funding does not cover the service delivery offered prior to July 2017 and since then one of the major impacts on their service has been the inability to offer throughcare to any young person exiting Ashley from the northern region.

Tasmania has a high rate of youth offenders in Australia and research consistently states that youth detention does not effectively deter criminal offending.  Early intervention and diversion programs are shown to be more effective at reducing youth offending and literature suggests that a collaborative approach is needed to ensure such programs are most effective.  The availability of early intervention and diversion programs in Tasmania is limited with the defunding of several programs in recent years, including the UTurn program, leaving a significant gap in the Tasmanian youth justice space.

A Tasmanian Labor Government will commit to restoring the funding the Save the Children to deliver support to young people who are involved in the youth justice system (cost $100,000 per annum)

Problem sexualised behaviour

In Tasmania there is currently not a program to address problem sexualised behaviour in young people. A therapeutic interventions model will meet the increasing needs of young people displaying these behaviours.

Many young people who display problem sexualised behaviours have themselves been abused, experienced family violence or have an intellectual or physical disability.

A Labor Government will work with key stakeholders to deliver a statewide program that will skill educators to deliver the program to young Tasmanians.

In a first term a Labor Government will fund the Sexual Assault Support Service to develop a program to address problem sexualised behaviours for young people aged 12-17 years. (cost $400,000)

Burnie Court redevelopment

A majority Labor Government will invest $15 million to complete a redevelopment of the Burnie Supreme and Magistrate Courts by 2021.

The court redevelopment is important for ensuring all North West Tasmanians have effective access to justice on an equal basis.

Labor’s is also committed to the relocation of the Devonport Magistrates Court as part of the Devonport Living Cities Project.

The Liberals have done nothing to progress this project in Government.

Labor will commence the necessary scoping and design work, along with the identification of a site near the Devonport Police Station.

Corrections/ prisons

Prisons are used to remove offenders as a potential threat to the community, to punish them for their bad behaviour and to rehabilitate them so they come out better members of our community.

The Breaking the Cycle framework, commenced under Labor, is aimed at trying to provide better support for offenders during their journey through the justice system back into the community, including opportunities for rehabilitation of prisoners. Labor will ensure this important work is maintained by continuing the Breaking the Cycle framework into the future.

However, while there are some programs within prison there is more that needs to be done.

Analysis of juvenile offenders has shown that around 50 per cent have severe undiagnosed language impairment, thus reducing their ability to read and write. As Tasmanian of the Year and Speech Pathologist, Rosalie Martin has stated, when people ‘can’t speak out, they act up.’ Building oral language as well as the written language is important.

Women prisoners are also growing in number, with recidivism rates reported in the Just Support Project Report as being higher than for men. Up to 90 per cent of women in Tasmania’s prison have experienced physical, sexual and psychological abuse. They have higher rates of mental health issues and around 80 per cent have a drug or alcohol related medical condition, among other issues.

Services for women have historically been based on those provided for men. There is a need to look a gender specific approach to what supports women need both within prison and once released from prison to reduce recidivism.

A Labor Government will partner with Chatter Matters to support a pilot throughcare literacy program using the skills of speech pathologists to assist prisoners (cost: $250,000)

A Labor Government will locate a worker within the women’s prison to worker with all women prior to their release from prison and link them with a local case manager that will support them post release for up to two years (cost: $80,000 per annum)